Saturday, October 4, 2008

Banging Down the Bees

By the time we had spent a few months in New Hampshire, I had made peace with bees in general. It was explained that bees don't just ATTACK people unprovoked. Apparently, when my little friend from Florida wanted to show us how harmless her grandpa's bee hive was, and she flipped the lid off the top, that was called "provoking." 

There is still a vivid memory of mom's face with a look of terror as she flung open the door to see her two little ones screaming, being chased and stung by a swarm. She beat at her long, thick hair to kill the bees that tangled there as she rushed us inside. My brother and I shared a shivering, sniffling bath of baking soda as we examined our head-to-toe whelps.

At the Stone Farmhouse, old Bud Stone kept bees in his attic. I suppose it was as good a place as any to keep bees.  Their flight path was very high in the air, so there was not much contact with them. Plus, he could walk upstairs to easily harvest honey . I can recall a quart jar with a draining piece of honeycomb on the window sill in the kitchen, a bee suspended in the amber liquid. I waited as patiently as I could for a piece to chew on, enjoying the initial jolt of sweetness all the way to the soft, barely sweet, waxy gum. 

One day there was a lot of commotion. The adults had gone mad! Excited voices called everyone outside. They were under the attic window banging loudly on pots and pans. I couldn't imagine what it was all for at first, but then I felt the fat dark raindrops hitting my head. Bees were falling from the sky like rain. When they fell, they seemed disoriented and would roll around a little to get right again. The bees were confused and stumped...but that was the point. 

The banging kept them from organizing. A new queen had hatched and her followers were gathering in a nearby maple, wanting to form their own hive.  We banged and banged until a neighbor was able to come and remove the extra queen and provide a place for the bees to relocate.

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