What a busy Memorial Day Weekend!
On Saturday I visited a friend for a look inside his new beehive. We’d taken an into to beekeeping class together this spring, and he won the class drawing for a complete hive with bees. After taking the class I decided against adding bees to the farm this spring, figuring that the roughly $600 outlay to get started with two hives was too much at this time. Further, there are so many things that can go wrong with a bee colony, from diseases to pests to the vagaries of weather and wildlife, that I got nervous I would screw it up and didn’t want to add that stress right now.
However, after seeing Aaron’s beehive, I am totally smitten and kicking myself that, as usual, I over thought it and didn’t jump right in. With complete sincerity I have to say that opening that hive and seeing thousands of beautiful creatures busy creating their perfect home was one of the most miraculous things I have ever seen. The precision of each cell of honeycomb blows my mind, as does the order the bees demonstrate as they go about separating comb into areas to raise brood and store honey.
We added a super (outside box), fed the bees, and inspected each frame of the hive. I learned how to hold a bee-covered frame without dropping it or crushing any bees. We found the queen, distinguished by a red dot of paint on her back, busy in the lowest super. Through this whole experience the bees buzzed about around me and I didn’t feel scared once. I was wearing overalls, my wellies, and a borrowed bee jacket and veil, along with rubber kitchen gloves. I think this delicate armor helped to alleviate any fear of being stung, but I also felt entirely calm around the bees. An inner voice told me that calmer I was, the calmer the bees would be (which is a mindfulness technique I have learned from working with all sorts of animals), and it seemed to work. I just focused on assisting Aaron and my mind was entirely present. It was strangely meditative, actually, moving slowly and deliberately so as not to kill the bees or panic them.
If anything, I’d get a beehive just to feel that peacefulness again. But I have been doing this farm thing long enough to know that the flip side of that wonderful feeling is the sadness that comes when living things in my care get sick, or injured, or fail to thrive.
I spent Sunday working in the garden, planting out a bunch of plants that Aaron sent home with me. I also fabricated more than twenty dahlia supports from 42″ tomato cages. I cut the legs off each cage, bent those wires into u-pins, and brought them to the garden, where I secured them, upside-down for stability, over the more than twenty dahlias that I planted out. I had started these dahlias in pots, some as early as March and others in April, hoping to get earlier blooms than usual. We’ll see if it works. Regardless, I will have very neatly supported plants!
I’ve also been busy tucking zinnia seeds around the house garden, and minding the blossoming veg garden. Lots going on—the growing season is upon us and I can be outside from morning until sunset and not run out of things that need tending.
Then on Memorial Day I went to a cookout hosted by new master gardener friends. When I got home, around 8:30 p.m., I bottled the beer that I made when my friends Brad (my homebrew mentor) and Amy visited in early May.
It’s a kölsch, a nice summer sipper, and I am pretty excited about it. I was nervous as the top blew off the fermenter its first day out, but that didn’t seem to negatively affect the beer.
As the kitchen was already a mess, I went ahead and bottled up some of my kombucha. This is the first batch I have made in four years, and it’s delicious. I spiked a few bottles with ginger, cherries and strawberries for a secondary fermentation. And then at nearly midnight I started soaking some wheatgrass seeds, which is a new experiment. I plan to grow them out to add to my green juices.
And so things continue on: growing or not growing, fermenting, decomposing or dying. It’s all happening here, all around me.