565 Daze by dixē.flatlin3
It has been 565 days since I first put on my protective gear and stepped into the world of bees. 177 days since I was blessed with two colonies to manage all by myself. I lost one colony, which is the norm when dealing with package bees that come off of the almonds in California. A 50-percent survival rate is also what most commercial beekeepers experience yearly.
Thankfully, I was also blessed to meet a local biologist who specializes in bees. A year after this fateful meeting, he was kind enough to give a nuc to replace my lost package. What is a nuc, you might ask? Well, package bees are bees shaken into a screened cage that includes a foreign queen in a separate cage. This usually occurs right after the almonds are done. A nuc, or nucleus colony, is a queen who comes with several frames of brood (growing baby bees, or bee larva) and worker bees. A nuc is essentially a baby bee-making factory. A package is a long shot at best.
Bees are a lot of work. A LOT OF FUCKING WORK! I want to clarify that for any hipsters who helped to Kickstart the fucking Flow Hive- whose motto is “Less labour, more love.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Bees are not a fucking ant farm to be kept for your amusement. I hope every person who receives one of these abominations gets their asses handed to them with a series of bee venom injections.
But I digress. This is about me, and I took bee ecology seriously from the onset. I sort got the fact that it’s kinda essential for human survival I apprenticed before I purchased my own gear. I conducted extensive research and scouted safe and secure locations for the bees before I ever pulled the pin. See, part of having bees is you have to be ready to move them at any moment, and have a location ready. Most hipsters will fail this essential rule of beekeeping, but I again digress.
During my 565 days, I have watched the hive I apprenticed with be mismanaged. So concerned with harvesting honey were they that they failed to notice the state of the colony. Several times I mentioned that it needed room to grow and we should add boxes. All they did was take and take. Finally, the colony left, and the boxes were overcome with wax worm moths. Which look like something out of a fucking Alien movie, as you can see from the pictures I took.
Given the time I had spent restoring boxes for the cooperative beekeeping project, I sort of shrugged my shoulder and resigned myself to a lesser role, the role of Cassandra, so to speak. Since this time, the shared project has floundered, but I still do my part.
In my journey for education, I have sought out the teachings of those who are long since gone. In particular, I have read much from Rudolf Steiner. Who was this? “Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner (February 1861– 30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, author, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.” You can read the rest here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Steiner
Anyway, he wrote a book almost a one hundred years ago on beekeeping that predicted many of the problems experience by modern beekeeping; Most all of it due to human interventions into the natural process. Interventions that sought to maximize profits, regardless of the impact on nature. Sound familiar?
Somewhere in my research I read of the myth that human female attended colonies were more severely impacted by the death of their beekeeper than male. Given the cycles of bees, their mostly female structure, this made perfect sense to me. And I have embraced a pagan-based management style ever since. I tend to my colonies based more on the phases of the lunar cycle than anything else.
It has been exactly three weeks since I last went to check on the colonies. During this time we have experienced a Blood Moon and a Harvest Moon. Last night I dreamt of my bees, which was odd, mostly because I rarely remember dreams. But today my desire to have nothing to do was overridden by the nagging feeling that I had dreamt that my bees were endangered therefore I must go and attend to them.
So my son and I went out to the farm where our bees are housed. And after inspecting the nuc, I found nothing out of the ordinary. But upon inspecting my first original colony, I discovered something quite alarming. There was no brood. Brood are larval or various stages of baby bees. There were A LOT of baby bees in the hive, but absolutely no brood. Which was alarming and not what I had observed three weeks ago. These signs can only mean one thing: there is no queen.
Now, given my knowledge of bee development, I realize that I had decided to intervene on the very last week that bees would have emerged from their larva form three weeks prior. So I am now left with the decision of letting the bees do their thing and supersede the old queen or I can intervene and install a hygienic and well-mated queen.
In Arizona this a two part problem because allowing a hive to naturally supersede a queen means that a virgin queen will take flight and mate with likely Africanized drones. Drones are the only male bees and their only purpose is to mate with queens. Which is why once this mating takes place, drones die. However, my other colony can become a factor when it comes to producing drones, so the virgin queen may mate with mellow, but different bees.
Arizona bees, or Africanized bees are impressive honey producers and rarely succumb to many of the ailments that European honeybees do, but their hive defensiveness can be hard to deal with for those who are unfamiliar with it. Aggressive bees are the ones I learned with, so I am okay with their nasty disposition. Imagine having rocks thrown at your face. That is exactly what Arizona bees do when their hive is disturbed.
But I started all of this because I believe that my Pagan Beekeeping practices have seeped into my dreams, and these uniquely female cycles makes me dangerous. From a historical standpoint, of course.
Anyway, it is late, as you were, droogs.
I have a lot of beekeeping shit coming your way. Consider yourselves warned.