Friday, June 21, 2013

Queen to Bee



By Beckie Carlson

I bought a new car this week. I loved my old one, only four years old, but the warranty was nearing its end and you know what that means. They set these cars up with an internal timer of sorts that starts the self-destruct sequence the day the warranty runs out. I'm no dummy. My warranty was good for 95,000 miles. I took the car in to trade at 94,531 miles, and in desperate need of an oil change. The oil change was the real catalyst. I wasn't going to put more oil in a car I was trading in.
I'm still in the van gang. I wanted to up/down grade to a mini SUV or coupe, but with the number of people living in my home at the present time that just isn't feasible. True, I end up driving the van with only me or one other person the majority of the time, but now and then the others consent to an outing and we are full.
I "had" to take the new car (unnamed still) into the shop to get some work done yesterday. Nothing serious, just the remote start (super cool!) and that sunroof lip hoohah thingy. I left it there all morning and decided to let the shuttle come pick me up to retrieve it. I don't usually go with the shuttle ride because those drivers make me sick. For some reason, I decided to take a chance yesterday.
The driver was a very nice guy. He was a retired police officer. I enjoyed talking to him and asking him if his U-turns were truly legal. His reply, which I shall forever quote, was "there wasn't a sign saying I couldn't do it so yes, it's legal." Works for me!  We hunted around a bit looking for our next rider, doing a couple of his "completely legal U-turns" before finding him. The rider had instructed the shuttle guy to pick him up by a lonely water tower beside the road. I couldn't help but think about my teenagers saying things like that. I'm sure their excuse is that they don't want me knowing where their friends live....for fear I will start hanging out with them and squash their coolness...?  The driver and I were both a bit skeptical when we finally saw a person emmerge from a building behind the water tower. He was a normal looking adult male, except for the huge white jump suit he was wearing. He kind of looked like a deflated Michelin Man. I bit my tongue and made pleasantries when he got in the car. He stunk. Sorry, but there was a very strong "aroma" about him that really went to my head. (not in a good way)
Possibly because of his tactful training as a policeman, our driver sweetly asked the new fellow "don't you have a home?" Our new guest, I'll call him Dan, replied he did indeed have a home but he was at work at the BeeFarm.  Now, I don't know about you, but that is not even an answer that is on my list of possibilities when meeting a new person. Doctor, lawyer, teacher, construction worker, even engineer would have been my options, but 'beekeeper?' No, I was surprised. Our new passenger was suddenly Mr. Interesting.
All the questions you may have about bees were suddenly being hurled towards Dan. Being the obviously patient person he was (a requirement for beekeepers) he calmly answered all our questions. I feel I have been pretty educated in the world of bees now. It was a very cool ride. Here are some of the things I learned.
The queen bee is twice the size of the other bees and she was 'engineered' by the drones. Yes, that's right. The drones MADE her. When they feel they need a new queen, they get together and do their thing and make one. The old queen senses something and usually flies the coup. Why you ask? Because when the new queen is born, she hunts down the old queen and kills her. Sounds vaguely "old English" doesn't it?
The queen doesn't sting, except other queens, because when a bee stings, its barbed stinger stays in what it stings. When the bee pulls away after stinging, the stinger pulls off along with all the bees internal organs. This could be a real downer for a queen that is supposed to be having tons of baby bees. As we know, a queen that can't reproduce needs to watch their back.
This is also why bees bump into you before they sting you. They really don't want to sting you....can you blame them? But if you get close to their territory, they will protect their hive and young. Dan told us a story of a rancher that decided not to pay for his bee removal serves and instead let a hive of bees grow on his land grow. The ranchers horse got a little close to the hive and the bees killed him. Not the way I dream of leaving this world. Sounds very unpleasant. The rancher should have sucked it up and hired Dan to come do his thing.
That brings up the next thing. There are guys like Dan that you can call and get bees removed from your property. The driver told us he had gone on a vacation a while back and when he returned he heard a strange humming/buzzing sound coming from his sprinkler valve box. He saw a few bees flying in and out and assumed he had a hive in the box. Instead of paying for help, he put a 2 x 4 over the opening and left it for a while. After not hearing the humming/buzzing for about three days he opened it up. The box was full of dead bees and "a ton" of honeycomb and honey. I would have thought "score!" cuz honey is darn expensive, but our driver just rejoiced in the dead bees and threw it all in the trash. What a waste.
So, the next time you hear buzzing, you may be sitting on a golden honey mine. You are allowed to have bee hives...unless you have an HOA. Although...if you name them all and consider them pets, you could probably get away with it. I'm going to start thinking of names, just in case I get lucky. Dan says I will only need about 60,000.....I can do that.....cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.alt-ana.com/queen-bees-and-queen-ants/

2 comments:

  1. What a fun experience! My husband took a beekeeping class many years ago. Fascinating little critters! And the driver's manual does specifically say that U-turns are legal unless posted otherwise. That is also an interesting perspective when applied to the way people in general make assumptions. Thanks for making me think! hugs~

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  2. Amazing experience thx for sharing.

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