Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping up with the bees

This was a an essay we had to write in creative writing about an embarrassing event. Hey, not everything I write is going to have a hot steamy sex scene in it. I have to break up the monotony with some boring stories about my childhood. I wasn't always a wild child eh, adult. I had a tamer more Beaver Cleaver side. But don't ask my brother Wally. No his name was actually Brad, Harold Bradley to be exact. But if you called him Harold or Harry, well, you just didn't.

I often reflect back to my younger days when I would always be on the heels of my grandfather. His wisdom seems to lead me even today, urging me to remember when life was innocent and a little less complicated. My grandfather was a retired steel worker who chose to return to his farming roots. He also kept bees, not as much for profit, but for the shear peace and contentment that it allowed him to enjoy. I learned many things about life from him, but one thing that will stay with me was his teaching me the fine art of bee keeping. From this, I gained not only a respect of the insect but a new found sense of how organized and methodical bees are and the process that it takes to make and extract honey from them.

It was one of those cool sunny mornings that I remember my grandfather asking me if I wanted to help him rob the bees. The term robbing the bees is the process of extracting the honeycomb from the hive. I was excited to be able to go out to the hives and help him extract the honey. I had watched him and my older brothers perform the ritual many times before. I donned a long sleeve shirt and long pants to protect my arms and legs from any potential stings. My grandfather gave me a helmet with a bee screen on it to protect my face and neck. I was ready for the extraction or so I thought.

As we approached the hives, my grandfather picked up one of the smokers and showed me how to pack the canister with material for smoking the bees. In the canister, we packed in leaves, pine needles, and cut up material from an old burlap sack. He said to me, “Now you gently squeeze the bellows while I light the material.” I squeezed the bellows in and out until smoke started to pour out the end of the nozzle. He said to me, “Now you take the smoker and cover me with smoke and then do yourself.” I eagerly complied with his instructions. We now smelled like burnt leaves and rags. He then showed me how to approach and smoke the hive to calm the bees. He then told me, “Now not to much smoke, I need to be able to see what I am doing.”

As I kept a light cloud of smoke going, he lifted the lid of the hive off to expose the top box. He pointed to me and said, “Now squirt some smoke along the top so the bees will move down.” The bees complied with the smoke and started moving towards the lower sections of the hive. My grandfather then took a pry bar and started lifting up the frames laden with honeycomb. He said to me, “See the combs; inside is where the honey is kept.” He then moved the frame to a set of boxes he had set up to place the frames loaded with honey in. He then removed the rest of the frames and placed new frames in their place. He told me, “This is so the bees can make more honey for the winter.”

We went to three more hives and continued the process over again. I was enjoying the time I was spending with my grandfather when a bee decided it had had enough. I thought through all my preparation that I had not missed anything. A bee would soon remind me. I had forgotten one minor detail. In my haste to get out and help my grandfather, I had failed to put on a pair of socks. The curious bee found pay dirt and gave me the pointed end of its argument. As the sting registered about my ankle, I screamed in agony, “Grandpa, a bee stung me!” He said to me, “Calm down and blow the smoke in the hive.” It was too late, I dropped the smoker and before it could hit the ground, I was halfway across the field with bees swarming after me. My grandfather laughed to see me in such distress. Off came the helmet as I ran across the tomato patch. I did not stop until I was inside the house and looking at my grandfather in the far distance going about his business still chuckling. When he finally returned from his chores, he asked me, “Why did you leave me?” I told him, “Grandpa, the bee found my weak spot!” He chuckled again as he hugged me. Several years later, my grandfather was near death and during one of the family visits, he remembered me and said, “You were the one who said the bee found my weak spot.” He smiled as everyone else laughed at my expense and embarrassment.

3 comments:

The Dish said...

Amazing! I have always been fascinated by bees. And always love a good grandparent story. Glad you started writing!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

That's a really sweet memory. There is a guy on my blogroll - My Home Among the Hills - who is a beekeeper and often shares his beekeeping stories on his blog.

Dave To You said...

My apologies are in order...Maybe it's the thing from last Monday...I'm pretty much a straight up guy and don't give a rat's ass...but..If I were to check out...I would rather not folks think..."fuck him, he was a prick anyway, so fuck him"...ya know! I ain't asking for tears either. Just a "Hey...he was a pretty cool guy".

You're just havving fun and I should remember that. That's what all this is anyway, for sure. Grown-ups on a wolrd wide play-ground kinda thing! The folks over there at WVSR really like you and you need to go back to messin' with them...just because. Hell...I might get eaten by a mountian lion tomorrow and my words will never show up again and nobody would notice. Keep writing and keep messin' with 'em. You're good and I like your style. Go fo it man....

Glad you like the music...kick ass I think and a level of prefection some folks don't get. I used to stand there in the trumpet section and it's a feeling of power, satisfaction and a musical rush you can't believe. Really hard to think I'll never do it again, but then again... I was there and belonged there and stayed there for a number of years. Quite the lucky fellow.
Not pandering here but...if you get a chance stop by here http://twoflatsdown.blogspot.com/. More music and my writting of life on the road more or less. Go to the older posts and start with 5th Trumpet and work your way back. That's the way "the book" will read. I actually have a guy interested in my stuff and perspective. Met him in May and he wants more. I add the music...just because. I would be honored to see what you think. Like Biff said... it's a world most people would never know exists. Take care man...I'm off for a good horseback ride tomorrow and the for first time Harriette (aka Poop-Doggie-Dog) will hit the trail with me. We hike a lot, she's three and sturdy. Part cattle dog I believe and a two or three mile walk shouldn"t bother her a bit. Besides...I know how to turn a horse around! Have a great Tuesday sir....-dave