Saturday, June 12, 2010
I was out on the Ancestral Diggins' Back 40 this evening. Over the past few days, I've cut back that Interloper Privet Tree as much as my puny, hobbyist-grade lopping shears will allow. In a perfect world, I'd just gas up my Stihl chainsaw and be done with it. Alas, my chainsaw languishes up in the garage at the DaveCave.
Because this garden project is time-sensitive, I switched to "Plan B" and grabbed my trusty Milwaukee Sawzall and an extension cord. Opening the metal toolbox, I extracted a brand new blade from it's infernal plastic package and grabbed the Sawzall, which immediately fell into both hands. It felt weird. The grip and boot were sticky and dark with whatever the sticky substance was.
I looked a little closer with my Bifocal Safety Glasses, and I remembered what the sticky stuff was. It was Honey! The last time I fired the old Sawzall up was early last summer over at the SturgeUrge Compound. The data from the photo file says the date was May 29th, 2009.
SturgeUrge had discovered a beehive inside the wall of his house a few weeks earlier, when the weather had warmed and the nectar was flowing enough for the hive to exude it's sweet perfume. One afternoon, Urge's girlfriend smelled that sweet smell when watering the potted landscape on the home's back deck.
SturgeUrge enlisted my help, and I found him a bee keeper who would extract the hive for a donation to his "Save The Bees" non-profit organization (of one) I found "Bee Guy Joshua" on craigslist, and I heard back from him just a few hours after I e-mailed him. Joshua was removing a big hive from the walls of a farmhouse near Davis that was taking longer than he had planned, so he'd be down to the Inland Valley the next day.
The next morning, I loaded some tools and a change of clothes, along with the digital camera into the car and headed over to open the wall where the bees were hiding. I rolled out my tools and extension cords and decided to wait for Bee Guy Joshua to arrive...the bees needed some smoke to calm them down before I could fire up a Skilsaw right on the outside of their happy home!
A couple of hours after the agreed upon time, Joshua called to say he was knee deep in another job that turned out to be much larger than the homeowner had thought. When Joshua finally arrived, he said he salvaged more than 75 pounds of honey from that house, as well as a good bee colony!
Joshua brought a Bee Keeper's Helmet for my use, and all the tools we needed to calm and extract the bees, and we began to cut our way into the back of SturgeUrge's house. The hive was not in the wall. It was instead deep between the floor joists, hiding between the hardwood floors upstairs, and the finished basement downstairs. We hunted, hacked, and hewed for better than two hours before the actual bee extraction began.
Joshua had his own Bee Vacuum! He'd built it from plans he found on the Internet, and it was a small ShopVac with a screened box to collect the vacuumed bees away from the works of the vacuum. Joshua vacuumed up the bees, one honeycomb at a time, removed each honey-laden comb, and vacuumed some more, until a half a dozen combs were removed from SturgeUrge's floor, and the Queen was located and captured. I bagged the honeycombs in Ziplox bags, while Joshua mined the combs from deep in the floor. It was after 9PM when we finally got it all wrapped up!
While Joshua and I were doing Bee Duty, SturgeUrge was whipping up a gourmet spread for dinner. ChefUrge's usual fine fare...green salad, veggies, starch, and something delicious from the grill...served with cocktails and a bottle of wine. I want to say it was grilled chicken with grilled vegetables...it was more than a year ago!
The three of us had a grand old time...two old farts to our new, young friend, who it turns out just started his "Foundation" Bee Guy Joshua was brand-spankin' new to bee keeping. He fell into it totally by accident, or serendipity...you decide. Joshua's real job was "Sponsored Triathlete"! It turns out he's quite the Triathlete, in fact he's been to much of the world to compete in Triathlons.
Joshua told the story of how he got into the Bee Rescue Business. Joshua's Father owns a Trucking Company. He serves the Central Valley Agriculture Market...hauling machinery and produce to and from grower's farms. He needed some more warehouse space for canning tomato hauling season, and rented a suitable warehouse somewhere in the Delta.
The warehouse was full to the rafters with empty beehives! Thousands of Supers, Frames and beekeeping stuff. It just so happened that Joshua was in town between Triathlons, and had just read an article on "Colony Collapse Syndrome" the mysterious disappearing bees malady that's been worrying growers worldwide for the past few years. Putting two and two together, "Save The Bees" was born.
SturgeUrge separated the honey from the combs over the ensuing year...he got a gallon or so for his trouble. It's really nice mellow, medium dark honey. I used some this week to make Rhubarb Braised Pork Chops...Yummy!