1. Find swarm. If the swarm is someplace you can reach with a ladder, and isn’t inside a wall or tree-trunk, you’re all set.
2. Put on protective clothing, especially gloves!
(that’s me in the middle)
3. Put an empty hive out in the place you want the bees to live.
4. Find a bucket.
5. Set up a ladder so you can reach the swarm.
6. Climb ladder and brush swarm gently into bucket with your hands. Most of the bees will fall into the bucket in clumps.
7. Show off bucket of bees to admiring friends and family.
8. Pour bees into new hive.
(Close-ups taken by me; photos shot from a safe distance taken by my friends and family)
This quote by E. B. White seems appropriate as I sit in my robe contemplating the day ahead…
The coming of spring means I’ve started to work my bees again after avoiding them all winter. The hives were a birthday present the year I turned 24, and I’ve carted them around almost everywhere I’ve lived since then. This means they’ve spent most of their time in various hippie-towns of Northern California – Bolinas, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Pescadero, with a few years expanding their horizons in the suburbs as well.
My social science roots show in my almost complete lack of knowledge about actual bee biology. I know enough about the fundamentals to get the honey, but not much more. The people I help get started in beekeeping very quickly surpass me in their knowledge of bee breeds, hive behavior, and colony collapse disorder. BUT, I’m dying to read social geographer Jake Kosek’s next book. Anyone who hears his talk “The Militarization of the Honeybee” can never look at bees the same way again. I just hope mine aren’t spying on me yet.
* * *
Ken Duckert hosted my bees in his backyard until recently, and used his intimate acquaintance with them to build up this lovely collection of “bee potraits” of my fuzzy friends. I’ve also put together a few photos of my own below.
Doing social change work inevitably puts you in touch with a great deal of human suffering, and we all have to find ways to stay the course in spite of the sorrows it sometimes brings to us. I came across this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver last night, and I loved the last stanza: “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life/ I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridgeroom, taking the world into my arms…” What a graceful way to describing choosing also to see the infinite joys and mysteries that also make up the world we live in.
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut…
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular…
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridgeroom, taking the world into my arms…
– Mary Oliver