I’ve taken up the hobby of bee-keeping. I’ve been a little tempted to write about it for a couple of months now, but I’ve been held back by the fact that I don’t really have anything to add. If you’re interested in learning about beekeeping, you should read Rusty @ the honey bee suite search her sight she’s talked about just about everything…
So here I am to write about a couple of personal experiences which don’t have any educational value, but I hope will be entertaining.
My bees have stung me and my son several times. The starter kit came with a hat/veil and shoulder length gloves, but not a full suit. Since I’m cheap I’m not inclined to upgrade. Since I’m reasonable I bought the same gear in miniature for my son. I’ve been stung in the knee when I was changing the feeder, and stung in the thigh during an inspection both through the jeans. I was stung on the collar bone when the riding lawnmower stalled right in front of the hive. Once, while lifting an 8 frame medium super with thousands of bees in it I got stung in the tricep in the gap between my gloves and my T-shirt. I calmly put the box I was holding ontop of the other walked away from the hive, and then stripped off my gear and started cursing. I thought “what have I done?” as I considered how to get rid of the ungrateful bastards. Carefully considering my options I determined that there was no way to poison them without paying a high price in pain. One option is to kick the thing over and walk off, once sideways and open on both ends the hive would no longer be welcoming and they’d be forced to go elsewhere. The best option I devised was to block the entrance at night while they’re all inside and then build a fire under it. With this thought I was soothed by an eerie calm. Once I had a viable plan for apicide the urge to destroy them dissipated.
Since then I’ve been stung twice inside the veil. Once on the chin and once on the back of the neck. The most recent venture I tried to accept the inevitability of the sting before hand. I was no more serene than I had been before. I’m not at all sure that I would survive the Gom Jabbar.
Note: Bees have evolved to scare off predators by buzzing loudly and ramming into you to intimidate you. They’ve also evolved to target the face.
Note: Beekeeping suits are white because the bees evolved to target dark shapes (bears, possums, skunks).
Note: You do develop a resistance to bee venom… but it still hurts like hell, the swelling just goes down after 2 days instead of 4.
The other day I had a very smart friend ask “do they really build comb in hexes? I said “yes.” And he replied “weird.”
I hesitate to call Ryan a genius only because he doesn’t seem especially creative and that is a key factor in the definition of genius. That being said, he speaks knowledgably about literature, history, physics and math. He has a law degree from Columbia and passed the NY bar to decide that lawyering sucks. Got his masters in math (because he was bored and because he needed to buy time on student loans) and then became an ER doc at a teaching hospital where he trains the residents. So his doubt made me second guess myself. I went and examined some comb, to find that it’s not hex shaped. The cells are all circular, and nested together into an hex pattern. My brain had been drawing hexagons around the circles like an optical illusion.
This particular frame of bees is “natural.” When you buy frames they come with a sheet of wax hexes already in there to tell the bees where to start. This frame was started bare and the bees drew out the comb however they felt like.
You’ll notice that the cells of the comb have a little cross in the middle… that’s the shadow from the other side of the comb where the little insect engineers layered the circles on oneside against the joints on another like offset bricks or oranges stacked in the produce department or layers of atoms in quartz.
This post took forever to make because I knew nothing of photoshop. The number of hours it took me to make a simple 4 frame animation can not be measured on one hand. It was completely frustrating because it was ALL learning curve. I’m confident that photoshop, like almost everything else in the universe, is easy once you know how… but I’m clearly not there yet. And my clever wife was little help as her photo shopping is mainly blur and dodge tool, not shapes and layers. I know there must be an easier way to manipulate the ellipse tool than what I was doing, but such is life.