So I have been writing posts, I just haven’t been posting them (little internet). As a result, following posts are likely to be out of order. Here’s one from January 11.
I’m writing this on the front porch of my caravan. I’ve got the fan going because even though it’s only 29 (80 about) outside, the shed gets a little stuffy in the afternoons. It’s 6:00 now, and we just came in from a day in the yards. Today, we finished up shifting bees from nucs (baby hives) into what will be the bottom boxes of full-sized hives.
Yesterday after we got home, we went for a drive around Hillston, which is the country town where this beekeeping operation is based. They grow everything here! Pumpkins, watermelons, corn, cherries, oranges, spuds, peaches, apricots, nectarines, onions, garlic, wheat, olives—even fields of planted thistle! Tons of almonds. Our bees pollinate many of these crops. As we toured around the bee sites, we pinched some leftover fruit: a whole box of oranges, corn on the cob, a few watermelons. I gave one to the neighbor kids, and they almost dropped it when they heard my accent. We also saw zillions of kangaroos and 2 emus.
So far, my job in the yard is to hand stuff to Frank. This might not sound like a glorious occupation, but it is. I clean out the bottom boxes, balling up fistfuls of spiders and their webs, find good “stickies” (frames that have had the honey extracted out of them), and furnish the new hives with wire queen excluders, a hive mat, and a lid. Frank moves through each nuc, telling me what goes where and why. His son works alongside us, moving around piles of stuff with the forklift. They are both keen to instruct me in all manner of things (“Ey. Mag. Ya learning?”). Migratory beekeeping. Government and bees. Environment and bees. Everything bees, actually, and other things, too. Politics. How to find a good bloke. When to buy a house. Where to invest your money (spend a million dollars on good bee equipment, and then spend your life paying it off). Pieces of wisdom (“It’s a good thing everyone’s different, otherwise we would all be beekeepers”) Practical skills, too.
For example, today I had my first three fork lift lessons. Though I am put off by most motorized vehicles, fork lifting is nothing but fun. In fact, I don’t want to drive cars at all anymore. If I can’t ride my bike, I’ll drive a forklift with a tractor on the back. We use the fork lift to shift pallets (wooden platforms that hold bee boxes and other supplies) onto the back of the semi. I don’t think I’m allowed to drive the semi.