For the squeamish around bees (ahem, my best friend), it’s probably best if you skip this post.
The Women of Hope Bible study has a hive in their possession that is an absolute train wreck. Abandoned for who knows how long, the bees are aggressive and unaccustomed to people. The hive is full of holes and is unsanitary with leaves and dead bugs inside. And on top of it all, the last time Dad and I went, the stand underneath had completely toppled and a corner of the hive was in the dirt and the whole hive was askew. No wonder I got five stings all over my body and Dad’s hand is swelled up like a balloon.
My book knowledge of beekeeping is substantial but my experience is a grand total of three visits to the hive. My ultimate plan of action? Keep going down through the banana trees to the hive until the bees aren’t so testy. To pacify the bees, my father and I have to literally start a fire in a bucket and waft the smoke to the hive. So far, the smoke doesn’t even seem to be helping. We cut off a honeycomb and run, bees often chasing us, shrouding our shelves in smoke that does not subdue our tiny oppressors. This last time, we were there longer than usual moving the hive to a proper stand of cinderblocks, and things started to get scary even for me.
You could hear the hum go up an octave every time we took off a layer, this only added intensity to the situation. The bees went crazy around our netted faces and you could feel them buzzing in the palms of your gloves. Not an easy way to work and it makes me nervous. We try to work fast. We step back every now and then to see if the bees will settle down, they don’t. The bees are landing on us as we cut off a comb, their buzz up three octaves since we arrived. It’s really hard to keep a cool head, we’re programmed to not want to be around angry bees. Why do you think almost every superhero show has a villain with bees? Because it’s very unsettling! We place the comb in the bucket and decided we want to leave before we get stung. So Dad put the hive back together and I gather our supplies and the honey and then something very scary happens. I feel a bee crawl into my rubber boot. I freeze, trying not to freak out. Another one crawls in the other boot and even though I’m not afraid of stinging things, I’m not too thrilled with my situation as another bee joins its trapped sisters. My heart and mind are both racing, if I move too much I could get stung. So my body decides that the best thing to do is stand as still as a stone as I feel the bees buzz around on my bare feet. I knew I should’ve worn socks. Dad asks if I’m okay and I slowly explain my current problem, he suggests we walk slowly to the clearing away from the hives and then take off my shoes. Thankfully, my feet weren’t stung but I did get one on the knee and another on my shoulder and three of my fingers look like fat hot dogs.
My overall ultimate plan of action? Get these current hives cleaned, these bees happy, and then start two more hives that we have already bought. Once I feel confident (otherwise known as, “When my experience roughly equals my book knowledge”) I’ll teach the Women of Hope. From there on, we start the “Bee Hopeful” business by selling honey and beeswax products in their communities and markets. The grand scheme is to raise enough money to get the ladies who are interested their own hives. Bee keeping doesn’t require a lot of strength or time and if you start it right, it’s also pretty easy. At least that’s what I’ve read, so far these bees are proving me wrong...