Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday was a big day around here. In fact, you could say it was all "a buzz." No, really. That was the day the honey bees arrived.

For me, this was a huge deal. I mean, I grew up in the city. Malls, museums, restaurants, the whole nine yards. Not big like, say, New York City or Los Angeles, but a place of more than a quarter of a million people in the city proper. In contrast, were I live now has a population of less than 60,000. And I don't actually live in town.

It's made some of my frugal ways more challenging than you might think. Sure, I don't spend a lot of time walking the mall. With fewer than 50 stores and no other mall for 450 miles, that gets old quickly. On the other hand, there really aren't any "good" second hand stores like you can find in larger populations.

(Hang in there, this really does have something to do with honey bees....)

So, even though I'm a "shop around and get the best price" kinda girl, and I'm pretty "crafty" besides, raising food of any type just wasn't in the life plan. Sewing my own clothes? Yep. Cooking from scratch? Got it. Shopping at the "day old" bread store? Love it. Butchering a cow? Never. Eating deer or wild turkey (the animal, that is, not the drink)? Probably not. Harvesting honey? Forget it.

But life doesn't always work out the way you plan, does it?

Maybe it's where I live. Maybe it's age. Maybe it's Hubby's influence. Who knows. But in the past few years, I've found myself trying to live "off the land" more and more. All those things I swore I'd never do don't seem so "outside the realm of possibility" anymore.

When Hubby and I were discussing this a year or so ago, one of us came up with the idea of getting a hive of honey bees. (I think it was probably my idea and I know I jumped on the idea of keeping our neighbors out of the back field, but that's a long story for another day.) Whoever threw out the idea, we both embraced it. We did some research. We saved our pennies. And now we have a hive.

We've had the actual hive for month or so. After some discussion, we opted to place the thing in our root cellar, which we don't use. We figured the bees would be fairly well protected from the elements down there, as well as being a little warmer in the winter and a little cooler in the summer. Saturday, I got the nook of bees, which is what that cardboard box in front of the hive is.

Inside that nook were four frames covered with bees. I wish I would have thought to get a photo of the approximately 15,000 winged creatures in that box. Oh well, you'll just have to take my word for it. We got the frames transferred into the hive and got the sugar water into the feeder box and there was only one sting. (It was me. About half an inch above my right eye. And that was when I was carrying the nook from the pick up site to the car. It was my first ever sting (as far as I know) so it's refreshing to know I'm not allergic!)

Now we wait. There won't be any honey until fall, of course, and we don't know if we'll have some even then.

In the meantime, our garden has been planted and wild flower seeds have been tossed into the back field. Yes, tossed without rhyme or reason to grow however. Both the garden plants--tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, peppers--and the wild flower patches will hopefully provide the honey bees with enough food as the summer progresses. Of course that means we need to keep deer and other animals from eating the flowers. So we've used the ugly gorilla I wrote about in a post last January as a scarecrow.

Amazingly, it seems to be working.

To go off on a little bit of a tangent, Spring means yard work around here. I don't mind mowing, but it needs to stop raining before any serious mowing can take place. You can't see it so well in the photos, but it was raining lightly as I took each of these.

In this last picture, though, you can see how desperately the grass needs to be mowed. Grass that long will clump in both the push mower and the rider. Wet grass will be even worse. But it needs to be done. I only hope that we don't get much more than some light sprinkles today and I can get some mowing done tomorrow.

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