Our son Todd had been working up a few stories, tricks and fiddle routines and we have had a great time performing together the last couple of years. The summer of 2005 we were invited to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Utah and the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee where he told stories about his chickens and played fiddle tunes like “Cluck Ole Hen”. People seemed to like it pretty well.
I have been keeping bees for some twenty-five years. As Todd seemed interested in bees as a little boy, I invested in a kid-sized bee suit and we have had fun working together in the bee yard. Just to keep him engaged, I would designate one hive that was “Todd’s hive” but the 2003 and 2004 seasons with mite problems and the excessive rain during the nectar flows, were the worst local beekeepers had ever seen and even though we had at least a half-dozen hives, we still ended up buying some honey for our own household use.
The spring of 2005, however, our eight hives survived the winter and as spring rolled around, the colonies were building up well. As it turned out, I had a 10 day storytelling tour in late April- early May (CT, PA, MO). This is the season that bees swarm, (When your hive swarms, the old queen and most of the work force leave to establish a new colony and you lose most of the surplus honey crop for that year, but if you can catch the swarm before it flies away, you can establish a new hive.) Before I left we made sure the bees had enough room in their hives to expand and we did everything else we could to prevent swarming. Just to be sure, I left Todd with 3 empty hive bodies ready in case the bees did swarm. I came back to find our apiary had more than doubled in size to seventeen hives. Todd had caught more than a dozen swarms. He had scavenged every bit of used bee equipment he could find to hive the swarms and had even called neighbors to give away swarms, mentoring some elderly new bee keepers in the process. So now there is no question about some of the hives being “Todd’s hives”. And he knows which ones they are – he caught ’em. And this year we got some really nice honey.
(There is more on beekeeping and the life of the hive in my book, Wildwoods Wisdom Chapter 9 entitled, “Observations of Social Parasitism – Of Feminist Bees, Slave Making Ants, Radical Gardeners, and Sleazy Academics”.)