A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE MATERNAL BEEKEEPER

A mother’s work is never done. Just ask any hardworking mother out there. The work of a beekeeper, on the other hand, is never complete either. There is always much more that needs to be done. Nets need to be mended at all times. Extensive preparations need to be made before the next honey-producing season comes full circle for the small monarchy of bees that I’m keeping. I say that it is small in comparison to the commercial hives from around the world. Now, I’m not a mother by any means. I am merely the queen bee’s helpmeet in this instance.

But it is the queen bee who is the mother of note. The perception is that she sits about, right at the heart of her hive doing nothing other than eat honey all day. Some little children may exclaim perhaps that this is why she is so fat. This is not true, of course. There is a peculiar reason for this large-sized abdomen of hers. I might be going into a little detail about that in a later post. Today, I’m just going to briefly touch on what I do around my garden and the beehive during the day.

I work from home, so it is fortunate that I can spend this much time in my garden. During the busiest season, the days are generally quite long and there is much that needs to be done. I am never complaining about this. No amount of tiredness can stifle my enthusiasm for beekeeping. In fact, I might just be giving you a friendly post on why I love beekeeping so much. Come now, there’s not much time to dilly dally, we have work to do now.

When I think about it, you may have just joined me at the best time of the day for me to take you on a quick tour through the garden and straight to the hive at the back of the yard. Neighbors complained about this once or twice when I first started out, so after I studied the rule book, I made sure that my new apiary was properly constructed and the garden was flourishing. It would need to be, otherwise the industrious bees, and there are thousands of them, would be obliged to go flying over the wall in search of pollen to take back to mother bee deep down in the hive.

You have joined me around the most tranquil time in the garden. It’s peaceful and there is not much of a buzz about the garden at this stage. Young male bees are happily going about their business collecting pollen, taking their time in the glorious sun, knowing that they have head starts for making their deadline. It is generally around midmorning that is a good time to visit the hive when most of the bees are out foraging.

The hive is relatively quiet so I can check its in-trays and see whether any of the honeycombs need cleaning. We are about halfway through summer so there is not much activity, merely just stocking up, as they say for the cooler and busier months ahead. In the beginning, I wondered whether the making of honey, like mating among animals, was a seasonal event, but to my surprise I discovered that the manufacture of honey is an all-year affair.

During these quieter moments I can spend a little more time pottering around the flowerbeds. But I still have to put up with those bees. But I’ve worked my way around that now. As you can see, I’m doing a little housekeeping around the hive while the boys are out. Amazingly, the bees are always working. Their activities differ from season to season. So, even though the hive is quiet around this time of the day, I still have to contend with a few dozen of them. I always say, never fear the sting of the odd bee here or there, but I would not blame you either if you began to run for your life being charged by the most violent and angriest of bees. All they are really trying to do is protect their mother’s brood.

It only takes a few minutes to check that all is well around the hive, but I still need to be fully protected, wearing my suit, boots and mask.