Tuesday, December 15, 2009

hive minded

Bees have been on my mind a lot lately. Late December is the time beekeepers start getting contemplative. We all know January is just around the corner: and that means it's almost time to order new nucs and dust off our gear. We become hive-minded, letting our thoughts turn to clover flower seeds and letting the back field get overtaken by dandelions. Our apiary's number is on the fridge. Our catalogs are on the coffee table. Our smokers and hive tools are down from the shelves. We're beekeepers and we want to keep some bees, son.

Yes, honey is on my mind... But with such an uncertain future ahead of me - I don't know what to do with these thoughts. I want to place my winter order and start preparing for a fresh hive but I have no idea where I'll be living in the summer, and that means a little extra planning if I want to start the early stages of my next hive.

I talked to my friend Roger today, knowing he may be able to shed some light on the predicament. He's a like-minded coworker if there ever was one. Roger works with me all day as a designer in the office, but goes home to his chickens, gardens, and bees. His wife and daughter are just as involved and excited in their backyard homestead as he is. We alays have something to talk about when we catch each other in the halls. So I felt like I could swing a deal his way. I asked him if he'd be willing to home the hive if I couldn't? Would he take the bees if I was in an apartment in the spring?

He gladly obliged.

I left the office today knowing I could order my new colony. If the bottom dropped out I could keep them at his place. He said I was welcome to stop by and tend them as needed until I could move the whole establishment to my own farm. I don't think he had any idea how happy that simple offer made me. I did a little dance in the snow walking out to my car. I can get bees again, even with the question marks. Hot Dog!

When you're living without a net you take these gifts as they come. I hope I never forget how good grattitude feels at 5:06 PM on a Tuesday.


Blogger Sylvia said...

I think that sometimes I write JUST SO I remember my feelings. When you are in the weeds, it is tough to remember that there have been lots of time when you were really content, happy and just cruising along. Then, your journal can remind you of my mother's favorite saying "this, too shall pass". And when you are really happy, it is important to remember that there have been times when things weren't going so great and you may need to plan a little better, rethink strategies when you aren't up against a wall.
My uncle keeps bees. I have been thinking of bees for quite some time. I talked to him at our family Christmas party and he is going to help me get started. I'll be reading your bee adventures/successes/tribulations with my own hive working.
Thanks for all you do to remind us to stop and give thanks for small gifts of friendship and help.

December 16, 2009 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Spring Lake Farm said...

Apartment! Those sheep and chickens are not going to like living in an apartment. You need some positive thoughts here.

Now close your eyes and think after me......small farmhouse, a little barn, chicken coop, pasture, fences, sheep grazing, Finn romping....

Happy Holidays.


December 16, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I'm glad to hear you have a safety net. I've been a beekeeper for 4 years now and, since I live in the city, my bees have to live at a friend's house in the country. It's a good compromise - but not as good as having them nearby. I'm saving up for my own little slice of farm so I can bring them home. Hang in there!!!

December 16, 2009 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Water Lily said...

I've been researching top bar hives as they seem very economical and bee friendly as well as person friendly. This book is on my list to purchase/read in addition to yours. http://www.biobees.com/index.php?blog I love the idea of bees.

December 16, 2009 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Man, I am chomping at the bit to have bees! I had two false starts with bees (first one is a long story, the second time the bees all arrived dead, and it was too late in the season to get more). So now I've been looking at empty hives for a year and a half. I have an order already placed for this spring, and I just know the third time will be the charm!

At least I don't have bears!! I hope you're putting some 'lectric around yours!

December 16, 2009 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger CJ's Vintage said...

What apartment!! I see a Farm in your near future. THINK POSITIVE!

December 16, 2009 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

I know how you feel Jenna. We've had to put off much because our housing is up in the air. I want to plan next years garden but we might lose our house so everything now is in containers, we've put off getting our dog and the city doesn't allow any livestock, including bees, something we want to get.

I just keep telling myself to learn about the things I can do now, canning, small gardening, etc. and try and keep positive about getting on our land. Maybe my next winter we'll both have our farms :)


December 16, 2009 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Abi said...

Bees!? Greg's a bee guy! You guys have to talk bees next time you're down. Go for it and keep moving forward :)

December 16, 2009 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Apartment!!!????!!! Nooooo!

Had a thought the other day - if you have what's known as a "whole life" insurance policy (the kind that has an "investment" component), you might consider cashing it in. You'll lose the life insurance part (which probably isn't all that much) but at your age - unless you're uninsurable for some reason - you can pick up much more coverage in a term policy for just a few dollars a month. Whole life is almost always a rip off - term gives you tons more coverage (if you even need it, which you may not since you're single) for much less money. The "investment" part of whole life is generally acknowledged by financial gurus to be a lousy one - you'd likely be better off cashing it out and putting it toward your debt reduction or downpayment.

December 16, 2009 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Leiflet said...

Are you moving? :( Oh no!

December 16, 2009 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Karlin said...

Jenna -

I highly recommend Kirk Webster's bees. They are mostly regressed and very hardy and well behaved. And they're local! Can't beat them!

December 16, 2009 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...


Gosh I just love your enthusiasm but is this the time to add things right now? I don't want you to give your landlord and neighbor any more ammunition than they already have. Keep them at Greg's and tend to them there. I just want you to be careful.

December 16, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

No bees are coming here, i may order a hive but it won't be delivered till mid-may. by that time I'll be in my next place.

December 16, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
OpenID 6512andgrowing said...

Keeping bees is such a hopeful act.

We lost one hive this fall and the other is greatly reduced and holed up in their hives dreaming of sweet Colorado dandelions.

December 16, 2009 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

This is like the "if you build it they will come" thing — if you get a hive, you are setting up a space for your bees. And you're also setting up a space to HAVE that hive, as in your own farm. You're an inspiration.

December 16, 2009 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Conny said...

Yaaay! you're getting bees!! I am excited for you. :>)

December 16, 2009 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Seafish said...

HEY! Off the subject completely, but guess who's "we're not from around here" blog entry is on MEN's homepage.

Congratulations Jenna,it was a beautifully written piece.

December 16, 2009 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Seafish said...


December 16, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

just a question, and I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm here, but wouldn't the money spent on bees this year be better saved up for your farm?

December 16, 2009 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Paula, it depends.

If i have to buy a new started set up, then yes. If I can reuse my repaired hive, then the 50 bucks for the hive means honey in two years instead of three. Trying to plan for my homestead future. It's up in the air.

December 16, 2009 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Moving my hives to the front of the house (well away from traffic areas - don't want their landing strip to pass over walkways) so that I can keep better track of them. Having them WAY out back produced that "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" problem that can be so disastrous to hives. I've got my next 2 on order for April.
When do you think your's will arrive?

December 16, 2009 at 6:10 PM  

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