This is called bearding and lots of people confuse it with swarming, but it’s just a few ladies hanging out, cooling off in the late indian summer afternoon.
Today THE BEES ARRIVE! I hoofed it back from a whirlwind time in New York specifically for their arrival. A Bee Meeting. My Mama and I will don our suits and veils and drive “Yota” (our little old pickup truck that has a tape player and only two tapes in it- Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic” and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s “Deja Vu”, not too bad if you have to only listen to two tapes for eternity) and drive out past Zion’s Crossroads to pick up our little ladies. When we bring them home we’ll install them in the hive bodies and frames we’ve built from scratch, the frames numbered with the year so, with hope for the future, we’ll be able to re-use comb and frames and know which hive the wax came from, the hive bodies themselves painted a very pale pink (my mother’s day present to sweet Maman). Photos and beeswaxing poetic to come later.
After our joyous whirlwind in New Orleans, Sweetheart headed back north to the big City and I headed back up the Natchez Trace with Miss McKay into the deep wilds of Mississippi where she makes her home. The plan was to revel in the southern spring, luxuriating in the three hundred mile latitudinal difference between flourishing banks of azaleas (there) and tiny nodding crocuses who blew it by showing up a little too early and then it snowed again (here). The plan was also for me to tag along on McKay’s first full beehive inspection of the season. She comes from a long lineage of beekeepers, and I used to visit her Brooklyn rooftop hives with her a few years ago when we were all gathering nectar in that sweet borough. She writes about her adventures in honey here. Unfortunately, Mississippi’s spring hasn’t sprung any more than Virginia’s, and it was just too cold to open up the hive. So, instead, I just inspected the honey super McKay’s planning on adding to her hive to give them space to grow in the next month, happy to have some up close and personal time with the frames and the drawn comb, with its Fibonacci beauty and funny beautiful irregularities.