Archive | May, 2011

Just a teaspoon of honey

30 May

During a department gathering last week I overheard someone say that it has been a terrible year for his allergies. I made the comment that the high pollen count in the air was good for my bees. Of course, I then had to explain that I keep a hive and yes, I actually had a backyard in Brooklyn. I didn’t think twice about the pollen count until Lovebug and I went to Jersey this weekend. We spend many summer weekends at the shore with my folks. On Saturday morning I was suffering from the worst stuffy nose, sinus congestion and constant sneezing. My dad gave me a Loradine pill from his allergy med stash but I was still struggling. He also made a comment about how I should buy some local honey to eat. Apparently if you eat honey made from local pollen, your body will become less affected by allergies. My parents, Lovebug and I went to a local flea market and sure enough, someone was selling honey. It is hard to say exactly who makes it based on the label. I have had a teaspoon with breakfast and haven’t been sneezing since.

Local Jersey Honey

Epi-ic preparations

27 May
    I’m not allergic to bees. At least, I don’t think I am. Well actually, I’m not entirely sure. See, the only time I can remember being stung was during soccer practice. I was six and it was the only season I played. I assume I was playing goalie because I remember standing still at the opposite end of the field as a glom of kids swarmed the ball. I was most likely picking dandelions when I came across said stinger. I remember telling my dad that my hand hurt and he told me that I must have been stung by a bee. I think he put an ice pack on it and we may have even left practice early. That being said, I’m not 100% sure of about the accuracy of this account. I also hear that you can develop an allergy to bees. I’ve rationalized that while I am not scared of being stung, it may be a good idea to at least be prepared. Queen Ma has Benadryl tablets, fast acting strip you put under your tongue, kids Benadryl, and sting relief spray. Still I called my doctor.

    “Hi. I’d like to see when the last time I had a physical was.”
    “Looks like it was back in 2009. Would you like to schedule one?”
    “Yes, that would be great”
    “How’s next Wednesday at 4:30?”
    “Perfect”
    “Great. You are all set”
    “Um, Well I have another question. Um,I recently became a beekeeper and I was wondering if the doctor would prescribe me with an EpiPen. I’m pretty sure I am not allergic but I’d like to keep one incase someone comes onto my property who is. Could she write me a prescription?
    (pause)
    “She can write you a prescription but she’d have to see you first.”
    “Right yes. I know. I know that this is a weird request. She can’t just give them out to anyone who says they are a beekeeper. OK. so then I’ll ask her on Wednesday. OK. Thanks bye”

    Don’t judge me for not wanting to die like Macaulay Culkin at the end of My Girl. Is this the only movie with bees in the story line?

Winging it

26 May

I’ve been getting the most intense stares on the subway lately. I can’t tell if it is my frizzy humidity hair attracting attention or the fact that I am reading Beekeeping for Dummies on my morning commute. Nothing wakes me up better than reading about swarming bees. I wouldn’t mind it if said gawkers would just ask me about it rather than coming to their own conclusions about my business attire, flip flops and beekeeping literature.

I have been reading up on what to look for during our first hive inspection. I am anxious to get in there and see the girls in action bascially because I know nothing and my only hope is to dive in and see for myself. Unfortunately, we don’t have a hive tool, the absolute 101 of beekeeping. Hive tools are metal bars that help lift the lid of the hive and move around the frames once inside.

Hive tool

I ordered one from Betterbee.com but it won’t come before we inspect. We will just have to wing it.

Everything I’ve read IE Beekeeping for Dummies says to open the hive on a sunny, hot day between 10-5. The thinking is that on a warm day some of the bees will be out foraging so there will be less bees to deal with when inspecting. Once the sun goes down and the temperature drops, the girls come home for the night. Of course we aren’t much into doing things by the book so we are planning on doing after work this week since the forecast looks the most promising.

So it beegins (again)

26 May

It started in the summer of ’09. Lovebug’s mom, Queen Ma, started a beehive in her backyard in Brooklyn, NY. At the time this was illegal, just like keeping a Bengali Tiger is illegal.  New York had an extensive underground beekeeping society, including many rooftop and backyard hives. Queen Ma was sure that her girls would be safe in the yard. Unfortunately, an anonymous neighbor called the health department and like a good citizen Queen Ma let them in. She was fined, went to court, and took a stance on legalizing bee keeping in NYC. The hive was donated to the Queens County Farm Museum with the idea that if it ever became legalized we could collect it and call it our own. In March 2010, the law was revised, legalizing beekeeping so long as your hive is registered with the health department.

One of the many hives at the Queens County Farm Museum

Fast-forward to last Saturday when Lovebug, Queen Ma and I drove out to Queens to pick up the hive. It took some convincing Queen Ma to get the hive back. Lovebug and I will be doing most of the work but she will happily be assisting us on this adventure. Of course Saturday was the first sunny hot day in what seems like an endless rainy season and we had to be dressed in long sleeves, pants, and closed toe shoes.

Lovebug and the beemaster

We failed three times trying to rent a pickup truck which forced use to put the hive in the trunk of Queen Ma’s hatchback. No big deal, we just drove down the Grand Central Parkway with 10000 bees in the trunk.Only one bee escaped in the car but was too concerned about returning to the hive that she hardly noticed we were doing 80 in a 55 zone. And that was it. The hive has returned to Brooklyn!

Queen Ma, the girls and me in our yard