Our Frontier Country Beekeepers’ club met again last night, and as always we had such a great time. They are the sweetest people. (Do you see what I did there?) I always laugh so hard the entire evening, eat too many wonderful snacks, and learn great stuff. Last night, the speakers’ material ranged from Shook Swarms to top bar hives, feeding with Ziploc baggies, and the shifting demand for bees in Oklahoma, versus honey (more on this soon, it’s very exciting!). We also learned more about producing comb honey. YUM. A few hours with these fine people just further inspires me to become a better steward of all that is under my care, including the bees. And I so appreciate that James, our president, opens every meeting with a prayer and a beautiful expression of love for the little honeybee. He thanks God for the chance to care for this important little creature, and it gives me happy chills.
This time of year is especially exciting, because in Oklahoma we are very likely beyond our last freeze; the pollen is in full bloom; and our first honey flow could happen this month. Experiences beekeepers are now feeding their girls sugar-water and Honey-B-Healthy, and some are even relocating hives to take advantage of blooming canola, etc. Do you want to understand how giddy they all are? Think of how excited I get about gardening season kicking off, then multiply that times twenty or thirty. That’s how excited beekeepers are right now. You could feel the trembling energy in the room last night, and it was contagious.
I toted my Papa Joe’s apiary journal to the meeting last night and let it circulate through the group, just not sure if anyone would be interested but still happy to share. They totally were interested! Of course Chuddie remembers Papa Joe and issued another solemn nod when I mentioned his name, and last night I learned that Chuddie’s wife remembers Papa Joe, too. This is so cool!
Another gentleman read through the notebook’s yellowed pages and told me afterwards that one entry in particular grabbed his attention, because in it Papa Joe had described a wax moth problem that he too had endured. “Me too!” I answered with too much intensity, and we laughed. There is something eye-opening and deeply comforting about seeing common challenges and universal conditions. It makes the problem seem less bizarre, more natural. Destructive wax moths in your bee hives are in this particular life category.
Here is a snippet from a journal entry Papa Joe made in early March, 1972. It could almost have been written here in Oklahoma, this past week:
Now it is early March and a few warm p.m.’s in the sixties, and bees are coming in loaded with a cream-colored pollen which is from the elms. The maples bloomed early in February. How long now till the first flow of nectar? The apricots which are often caught by frost are budding! showing pink… This & the wild plum will bloom in one week followed by apples, pears, and peaches. Dandelions & dutch clover are also very early to bloom. This is a very important time as early nectar & warm days help to determine the colony’s ability to build up strong for the big nectar flows.
The coming weeks will be busy and lots of fun for our Frontier Beekeepers’ club. We have a two-day class planned. We have at least one, maybe two additional field days planned for exploring commercial and private apiaries. And of course all the work and creativity that gets poured into individual colonies…. For me that is where the magic happens.
Here at the Lazy W I have a little more construction and painting to do for new wooden-ware, then I am relocating all of my hives to the back field, where my girls (my human girls) used to have their playhouse “fort.” Our bee yard will be near the pond still and well guarded by the llamas, but further away from the vegetable garden and mowing areas.
Happy month of March, friends! Enjoy the changes big and small, the thrilling renewal. Celebrate the flow of nectar, however it looks in your world.
“They whom truth and wisdom lead,
can gather honey from a weed.”
~William Cowper, 18th century English poet