Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Buzz about the Bees

Donning my new bee suit, I helped Sarah
place a new box on the hive!
A number of years ago, while serving on the City Council in Salt Lake City, I initiated a change to the ordinances that allowed for the keeping of bees in most areas of the City.  Prior to that, it actually was illegal, oddly enough, even in the agricultural zones (yes there are some in Salt Lake City). There were many who had hives already and there is a need to have them throughout the city.  Many of our plants are dependent on their activity, not to mention the benefits of the honey that comes from them.  I started out without much knowledge but one of my colleagues was very interested and a staff member had kept a hive in his hometown of Kaysville.  We looked at how you place them to minimize impacts on neighbors and how to register them responsibly.  We ended up just allowing the State Department of Agriculture being the only thing required, but referenced it by ordinance.  You can register for about $10 a year, and it simply allows them to know placement, etc so they can be inspected and more importantly identify you, in case there are problems in the area.  I believe in the end, it actually was a pretty good ordinance with some common sense criteria.

A number of years ago, a friend in the neighborhood wanted a hive but felt his yard was too small.  I wanted a hive, but didn't want to maintain it.  A perfect match and he kept the hive in our yard for a couple of years and we benefited from having the honey.  The hive ultimately died and he pulled it from our yard.  In the meantime, our daughter Sarah learned bee keeping at the school she was attending, Salt Lake Center for Science Education.  Her teacher Cavett Eaton was great with the kids, Sarah learned a lot and we decided to do our own hive.  Our friend wasn't using his boxes and graciously allowed us to use it, Cavett helped us acquire some bees (he was getting some himself) and we were off.  Our friend let us use his bee suit and he was much smaller than me, so it only fit Sarah!  I was elated.  It allowed me to observe from a distance, claim some right to having a hive in the yard but without having to face the reality of working with the bees.  It was a great set up and I consistently documented Sarah's work in the hive!
We have some great neighbors who also keep hives and they were always generous with their time when we had questions.  Well this year a very traumatic event took place.  One Saturday, Cathy and the girls came home and announced a shocking and terrifying news to me.  They had been to Jones Bees to pick up some tools for the hive and announced to me that Jones Bees carried a size 6XL in a bee suit!   To top it off, they purchased it without even asking me.  What, a bee suit!  I can't even find clothes in my size when I wanted them to fit!  What legitimate excuse would I have, how could I tell Sarah I can't.  I was going to have to participate in the process and do more than talk...this was horrible news!  Well the time came, I suited up and low and behold I survived.  Bees have large eyes by the way and starring them down when they sit on your chest is an amazing and crazy experience.  Sarah had me add a box a few weeks ago and showed me how to work in the hive.  Wasn't this suppose to be the other way around?  I guess it was time for me to "man-up" and participate.
Something seems contradictory when you
wear a bee suit, yet wear shorts and
On a side note, a few months ago, I was introduced by some young children in our LDS Stake to the children's show, "The Hive".  Sarah and I have become slightly addicted to the series, much to the chagrin of Cathy.  It's available on Netflix, and worth watching when you get  a chance. Here is a sample.  I guess that's what all the buzz is about!

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