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Lessons from the Hive

By xC0000005 in Culture
Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 07:37:19 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

Life, I've been told, is a school. I've always thought that it was more like a college, where your participation determines what you get out of it. I never made it through college, but I've learned a lot in life, and over the past year, I've been engaged in a sort of group learning experience - one of me, thousands of them. They are honeybees, and they teach the lessons of the hive.

Why would anyone keep bees?

A year ago, I stood at the county fair, transfixed by the single frame observation hive. "You should take them home," my wife said with a laugh, and I thought, she's right. Bees are fascinating social insects. The colony is really a single organism, with the individual bees more like cells, and the ordered chaos that drives this organic machine is an art. Beekeeping offers the chance to co-operate, instead of dominate, to assist, but not control. It gives you the chance to learn more about yourself, the life you lead, and about the way nature runs itself. There's also the honey.

How often do you get stung?

This is probably the most common question. The answer is, not a lot. I've been stung four times this year, inspecting every week, with a near frame by frame teardown. Two of those stings were on the same day (and the same place, ouch!). If you keep bees, you are likely to get stung. I don't recommend it for allergic people (my family and I are not). Stings hurt, they swell, then they go down. On the opposite end of the scale you have the commercial keepers who get stung and develop a level of immunity. Using the right equipment is a huge part of not getting stung. What's the right equipment? Whatever you need to feel comfortable. If that's a full nuclear response suit, great. If you work in a tank top and veil, fine too.

Where do I keep them?

I keep my bees in my back yard. They are up against an six foot fence, out of site of the road, in what was once a rose garden. My wife originally believed that the hive would be like a machine gun nest, firing out angry bees from across the yard at my daughters as they run and play. We know better now. A healthy hive with a docile queen and nothing disturbing it cares nothing for the humans around it. Incidentally, "disturbing" means "sticking things into the entrance and moving them around". Things like running by the hive, hitting it with a ball, or other such actions don't tend to arouse my bees at all. A clear flight path and a safe home is all they desire. My daughters stand a few feet away while I inspect the hive (always eager for comb honey). My dogs sit on the screen around the hive, eating bees (and occasionally getting stung). My neighbors remark on how well their gardens do. Me? I enjoy working with the bees.

Educating my neighbors has been an interesting process. One neighbor keeps a vast (for the suburbs) garden, and was delighted. Others simply didn't understand that these were in fact insects, and not trainable. I found that nonsensical answers worked perfectly well with them:

How do you keep them in your yard?"

"What do you mean?"

"How do you make sure your bees don't come over in our yard?"

"Well, I have these little leashes ..."


"Yes, and every morning I go down and put them on. All twenty thousand of them."

"That must take a lot of patience."

"Not nearly as much as some conversations."


"You know those dog fences that shock the dogs if they cross them?"


"I have one hooked to a bug zapper."

"Oh, I understand."

Where do you get them?

Bees can be bought or acquired from a number of sources. The most common is a package, where bee keepers with large hives shake workers from the hive into a funnel, then dump them into a box the size of a shoe box with screen on the side. A new queen is added (safely tucked away in a queen cage), and the package is sold. The package forms an artificial swarm, eventually accepting the new queen as their own. It buzzes when you move the box. It smells like lemon pledge (due to the pheromone used to tell the swarm where to gather).

Beekeepers can also buy established colonies. These come in several hive bodies, and contain five to eight times the number of bees in a package. Established colonies will often produce honey the first year, and by produce, I mean a hundred pounds or more. Packages might produce honey the first year, but the goal of a package is to grow a colony, to get honey the next year. Beekeeping is as much about preparing ahead as anything. Planning doesn't help. You need to prepare, and the first year, you are preparing the colony for the second year.

The other option is to obtain bees by picking up swarms or cutting out colonies that make their homes in walls, chimneys, trees, or other places likely to cause bad bee/human interactions. Some people do this before buying equipment like veils, suits, and smokers, and use the money from removals to purchase their equipment. I don't' recommend that, for the same reasons I don't recommend throwing yourself from an airplane to retrieve money you can then use to buy a parachute.

What do you do with them, anyway?

When a colony is healthy, not much. During swarm season (May through July), you inspect every week to see if the colony needs more room to grow into, needs more room for nectar or honey, or needs to be split to prevent a swarm. The rest of the year it's about either preparing for winter (strengthening the colony to survive the winter), or preparing for summer (growing the colony to ensure a strong work force). That involves checking for signs of disease, checking the brood (laying) pattern to make sure the queen is doing well, and gauging the strength of the hive. Of course, if you just like observing the hive, there's plenty of opportunity to do that.

What do you learn?

A lot of things, but two stand out - the first was about bee time. Bees run on their own time. You can't rush them, poke them, prod them, or do anything else to change their timing. You can, however, adjust your own. This doesn't come natural in a world where we put instant coffee in the microwave and tap our fingers impatiently while we wait.

The next thing I learned was to prepare ahead. A plan wouldn't cut it. Planning for what I'd do if the colony grew quickly wouldn't help, if I didn't prepare a hive body for them to expand into. Planning for how to stop robber bees from killing the tiny colony wouldn't stop them, building a robber screen would. Prepare for what you can't plan for.

Mostly I've just watched in awe as the colony performed for us. From helping a dying worker bee make it home, to the drama of a near regicide, and its aftermath , we've watched and discussed. I've watched amused as the first drones appeared. I learned that you cannot control nature, even when it would help. My colony died after an unknown accident killed the queen. Sometimes, in nature, things die when we think they shouldn't. Sometimes the bird does kill the one queen bee among thousands. Sometimes the safety in numbers isn't. Good things happen too - an end of year swarm took refuge in my hive, and is now preparing itself for winter.

Beginning Beekeeping

This article doesn't go into depth about how to actually start beekeeping. There's plenty of information about that on the internet, beesource is an excellent source of information. I would highly recommend looking up a local beekeeping chapter though - I chose to do this the hard way, without help, and would not have made so many mistakes if I had chosen to work with a mentor. You can check out a dozen books at the library and read them, if you want. Beekeeping for Dummies is actually an excellent book. Keep in mind, however, this simple fact:

Bees cannot read.

Most of the things you learn about bees have cases where they aren't true. Almost everything in beekeeping has multiple ways of doing it. Most "rules" have as many exceptions as they do cases to apply. A common saying is "Ask ten beekeepers, get twelve answers," so learn from books, and the web, and other beekeepers, but don't be shocked if things go differently, or don't follow what "everyone said." That's just part of the fun.

Today is inspection day, and as I finish this article, my daughters are waiting for me to go and open the hive.

"How are they doing today?"

"Will we get some more honey?"

"Can I have a drone to play with?"

We shall see.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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Related Links
o right equipment
o a package
o bee time
o From helping a dying worker bee make it home
o near regicide
o aftermath
o the first drones appeared
o accident killed the queen.
o took refuge in my hive
o beesource
o Also by xC0000005

Display: Sort:
Lessons from the Hive | 93 comments (74 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
the analogy that stands out most in my mind (none / 0) (#1)
by trane on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 08:38:39 PM EST

is that you, like your bees, are ruled by females.

luckily some of us are not bees and can overrule our biology...

ummm (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 08:45:09 PM EST

the best you can hope for is equality in a relationship

if you actually think you're in charge, she's probably just letting you think you are in charge because she sees very well how full yourself you are and how necessary it is to maintain that illusion for you because fo your fragile ego

or you bought your bride from a third world country, and you really are in charge, but then she'll come around to poisoning you or stabbing you and freeing herself from slavery at some point

so you lose sucker, just by opening your mouth and saying what you've said, you've revealed yourself to be the biggest bitch of all ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

by "overrule our biology" (none / 1) (#8)
by trane on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 09:24:04 PM EST

i meant: refusing to have dealings with women, so far as is possible.

ai is my true mistress.

[ Parent ]

Transhumanism! (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by A Protracted Genocide of the Obese on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 09:56:23 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Naw... nothing like that (none / 0) (#53)
by Altus on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 02:42:09 PM EST

he just cant get laid...

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]
alternate explanation (none / 1) (#87)
by trane on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 02:05:47 AM EST

i refuse to be whipped by the pussy.

[ Parent ]
"ai is my true mistress." (3.00 / 5) (#14)
by zephc on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 09:56:24 PM EST

but she wants nothing to do with your microsoft floppy.

[ Parent ]
a cool plaque (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by Fuzzwah on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 01:10:03 AM EST

I recently saw a little plaque next to the steering wheel on a boat. It read:

I am the Captain of this ship, and I have my wife's permission to say so.
Google knows about it too.

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

beezzzzzzz! (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by loteck on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 09:55:55 PM EST

+1FP, ever remove bees for people as a side job to whatever it is you do? costs a fortune, they must make a killing.
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich

Removing bees (none / 0) (#17)
by xC0000005 on Thu Oct 27, 2005 at 09:59:00 PM EST

I've picked up a swarm, but cut outs aren't my bag of tea (though maybe for the experience some time). Yes, it costs a ton, because regardless of how good your suit is, it's going to be a mess. You go cutting into an established colony, even with a cloud of smoke so dense you can't see, and you'll probably get stung. Multiple times.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
i miss boren (2.37 / 8) (#23)
by j1mmy on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 12:14:01 AM EST


The computer geek in me... (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 01:42:46 AM EST

Wants you to put a webcam out in the hive, and set up image recognition on the things. Then they can do the "damn it, get us electric heaters" dance. We can even write up some scripts, so you get paged, or maybe an email.

Awesome story, one of the best in recent memory. You could have made it longer, love reading about something like this... nothing I'd ever think to read about on my own, exotic, constructive. Just awesome.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

This is silly (1.01 / 110) (#28)
by Makenzie Smith on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 02:39:16 AM EST

I am sorry, but this is utterly boring and irrelevant.

What you are doing is pathetic and ultimately a waste of time.

Volunteer.  Help a local church.  Feed the hungry.

You are simply masturbatory in your pursuits, doing nothing unless it gets you off.

Teh irony gave me the (none / 0) (#49)
by Maurkov on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 11:56:32 AM EST

I can't finish.

[ Parent ]
I voted 3 only because (none / 1) (#83)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Tue Nov 01, 2005 at 08:18:47 AM EST

alot of real wankers voted '0'.


Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

There's a lot to be said (none / 0) (#84)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Nov 01, 2005 at 07:12:46 PM EST

for reverse psychology...

[ Parent ]
+1, fp simply for... (1.66 / 3) (#29)
by gordonjcp on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 03:46:38 AM EST

... "Not nearly as much as some conversations."

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

+1FP, excellent article (none / 1) (#30)
by stuaart on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 05:05:30 AM EST

Can't see any edits in particular. Ignore anyone who gives you a -1, they're just jealous that they don't keep bees.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective

Oh, not THAT hive (3.00 / 2) (#31)
by Alien zombie on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 05:21:46 AM EST

the one where they talk about making and doing drugs.
What a tease.

lol (none / 1) (#34)
by some nerd on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 06:10:43 AM EST

That was the first thing I thought of too :)

Unfortunately it's still dead (afaik), I didn't understand hardly anything on there but it was a fascinating site anyway.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]

Haven't checked Rhodium's site lately (none / 0) (#59)
by Alien zombie on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 08:34:32 AM EST

but I've got a copy of his archive.

[ Parent ]
+1 FP the Bee guy (none / 1) (#32)
by livus on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 05:26:37 AM EST

Great topic, nice writing style, +1 informative.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Bees can't read. (1.75 / 4) (#35)
by Pirengle on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 06:12:21 AM EST

That alone calls for a +1.

A sure-fire way to make friends and influence people: transform the letters "l" and "i" into "-1"s whenever posting. Instant wit!
I'm torn between that line and: (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by shm on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 07:19:17 AM EST

"How do you make sure your bees don't come over in our yard?"
"Well, I have these little leashes ..."

[ Parent ]
yay (none / 1) (#37)
by noOo on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 06:40:24 AM EST

very interesting -.-

You know how bees talk to each other by dancing? (none / 1) (#39)
by nebbish on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 07:27:37 AM EST

That rocks on so many levels.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

In philosophy (none / 0) (#40)
by Mystess on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 07:32:56 AM EST

my lecturer told us about some philosopher (I forget his name now) who studied fatalism for ages and then gave it all up to become a beekeeper.

Your article reminded me of this.

"Don't worry, You're better than somaudlin." - stuuart

My Serious Post about Bees (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by IHCOYC on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 07:42:07 AM EST

I used to make a version of apple mead every year, with about five gallons of local apple cider mixed with about ten pounds of local honey. A solid and basic recipe, but you will want to use finings on this.

At any rate, I haven't made this for about five years now, because local honey is way too scarce. Some kind of disease decimated the local honeybee population here in southern Indiana. For a couple years I don't remember seeing a honeybee outdoors, anywhere; finally saw a few this past summer.

Has this been a problem elsewhere, or is it mostly confined to the Ohio Valley?
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit G

Decimation of honeybees (3.00 / 2) (#44)
by xC0000005 on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 09:44:01 AM EST

Something I pretty much have not written about is the decimation of honeybees by the varroa mite. Most ferral hives are gone. Beekeepers have been fighting them off with medication, now that the mites are resistant, it's about moving to natural cell sizes and treatments like powered sugar or oils to kill them. The mite is bad. Really bad.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
talking to a local beekeeper... (none / 0) (#60)
by krkrbt on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 12:57:06 PM EST

I was talking to the operator of The Honeyman's stand at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago, and asked him about the mite problem.  "It's real bad...  Almond crop in California failed this past year, rain at the wrong time and not enough bee colonies to go around.  The Honeyman's hives haven't been infected."  

Two weeks later I saw the old man himself (he said something like 90% of commercial beekeepers are 62 or older), and asked him.  He said that his hives had been infected with the mite, but unlike other keepers who'd almost lost everything (one guy in the midwest lost ~1580/1600 hives), his bees were able to fight back.  What was the difference?  His bees are nasty little fuckers.  :).  Don't remember the variety he has, but they aren't friendly little american honeybees...

Just found an article called The Plague of the Bees.  First paragraph:

It's all over the evening news: American honeybees are in trouble. Well, what's actually over the news is that American agribusiness is in trouble because honeybees are in trouble. What's not over the news at all is that honeybees are in trouble because of agribusiness.

[ Parent ]
Mite infestation (none / 0) (#63)
by xC0000005 on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 06:52:29 PM EST

Most colonies have SOME mites. Some bee strains seem to be more resistant than others. Smaller bees (which hatch faster and give the mites less time) seem to do better as well. Suprisingly, sugar & oil both seem to kill mites, though the effectiveness of each treatment is a subject of holy wars. Yes, bees are in trouble. As a hobby level keeper, I don't aspire to help with almond polination (an early crop, with a narrow window for success), but maybe one day. For now it's enough that my neighbors that garden tell me how well their gardens do, and that I see my own trees and tomatoes so overloaded that I can't eat it all.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
We're from Columbus, Indiana.... (none / 0) (#65)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 11:27:30 PM EST

And good friends found that a mixture of 3 ingrediants will cripple/kill the mite.

Crisco, sugar, and menthol. Turns out, when the 3 are mixed in the right porportions (i dont have that offhand) it will kill the mite. Turns out, they die when exposed to menthol. So you create a matrix of fatty sugary slush and mix it.

Happy bee, dead mite.

Lots' o hunny.

[ Parent ]

Grease blocks (none / 0) (#66)
by xC0000005 on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 12:15:42 AM EST

work, but they aren't a total solution. They sure are helpful in the fall though (fewer brood means killing the adult mites is quite effective).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
How do you medicate a bee? (none / 0) (#92)
by Russell Dovey on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 11:04:56 AM EST

Injections would seem awkward.

Do you put medicine in the flowers of surrounding gardens?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

You get a tiny medicine dropper, and ... (none / 1) (#93)
by xC0000005 on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 01:47:16 PM EST

Actually, "medicating" bees consists of medicating their food (typically feeding them syrup and mixing the medicine into this). Common reasons to medicate are to control tracheal mites and American Foulbrood (which will destroy your colony, and require burning of the affected equipment). In the case of medicating for mites, the stuff I have (but am not using) is strips that release vapor into the air. There are many, many types of treatments being tested versus varroa, everything from powdered sugar to mineral oil, formic acid, and more.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Mmmmm Cyzer... (none / 0) (#52)
by Altus on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 02:39:09 PM EST

I have a batch of something that sounds suspiciously similar to that in my basement right now along with a couple of pure ciders...  its going to be a long winter of waiting!

up here in new england I havent had too much trouble getting my hands on large buckets of raw honey but the price has been moving steadily upward...  I have a good source... many of the others are nearly twice as expensive...


"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Congratulations (2.40 / 5) (#42)
by bml on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 07:44:45 AM EST

On the most overwhelming FP voting I remember. The article is great, by the way.

I recommend everyone to read the linked diary entries as well.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey

I remember now... (3.00 / 5) (#46)
by stuaart on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 11:07:42 AM EST

This is what I came to kuro5hin for...

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective

[ Parent ]
Nice (none / 0) (#43)
by t1ber on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 09:37:48 AM EST

Nice, and interesting.  As someone pointed out, any plans for some kind of webcam added to your bee-journal on K5?  You could do away with the text entirely and just post video of you dancing.  We would all learn Bee by immersion.  Or you could drown those unable to communicate in honey.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

This article... (none / 0) (#45)
by tarsi210 on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 10:53:04 AM EST

...is definately the bee's knees. It is the wasp's nipples. It is, I would go so far as to say, the entire set of erogenous zones of every major flying insect of the Western world.
It's fun (none / 0) (#47)
by binford2k on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 11:47:14 AM EST

We kept bees when I was a kid.  We took turns helping Dad with the hive.  I never got stung (which is good, because I'm mildly allergic), but my brother got attacked once because a dumbass friend of his decided to pull the "stick something in the entrance and wiggle it around" trick.  He was stung 32 times and the dumbass friend didn't get stung once.

Overall it was a pretty good experience and I'd like to keep bees of my own when I finally end up in a place amenable to that kind of activity.

Diary-related question (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by ethereal on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 11:49:55 AM EST

I really enjoyed this article, and had to go back and read the diaries to get the whole story.  Great series - I hope you keep it up.  I suppose probably not too many entries over the winter, though?

I had a question related to the loss of the original colony.  Originally you thought they were going to swarm, but it turned out the queen was failing.  Do you think they still would have swarmed if you hadn't added the extra space?  Is swarming somehow related to the queen giving out?  I guess I'm asking:  how would you know to diagnose the situation differently in the future?


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Winter, Failing queen (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by xC0000005 on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 11:58:53 AM EST

Once the cold continuous weather sets in, I won't be opening the hive.  I'll watch for flight from the entrance, and if the temperatures go up briefely, I'll peek in and add some syrup at the entrance feeder.  Other than that, I'll leave them to their own devices.

I thought they might be going to swarm.  If I had to do it over, I'd be home during the 3 weeks I missed.  I'd have split some of the frames with queen cells off into nucs (tiny colonies) and later merged them back together.  Odds are that with four or five queens, ONE of them would have been fine.  I could have added them back to the original colony then.  

I'm still learning, and will be for years, I suppose, so take what I say with the contents of your salt shaker.  Still, it would be easier to diagnose next time.  I'd see the growth coming, probably add the second hive body earlier regardless.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

A question on Bee's (2.50 / 2) (#51)
by haplopeart on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 01:53:44 PM EST

I was wondering, and maybe you know.  If you have a good established colony does it help to reduce the presence of other not so docile stinging insects?  In general HoneyBees don't seem to be that agressive, and tend to nest in places that are not that bothersome to humans.  However wasps, yellowjackets and the like seem to want to compete with humans for space.

So if one has a good HoneyBee colony does this help at all in keeping the other insects away?  Does a good Bee colony claim the general area and defend it somewhat?
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

This article (none / 1) (#54)
by curtains99 on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 04:07:38 PM EST

is quite adorable.

was expecting Victor Erice (none / 1) (#55)
by demi on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 08:03:35 PM EST

but great reading nonetheless. I followed the links to your diaries too. Good stuff!


Hive mind commentary (none / 0) (#56)
by johnny on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 08:09:35 PM EST

Hmmmmmm . . .reminds me of a certain madcap novella. . .

yr frn,
Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Che
Yes, it does. (none / 0) (#57)
by xC0000005 on Fri Oct 28, 2005 at 09:19:18 PM EST

I have a copy by my computer. :) Note that the "mind" of the hive is mostly composed of older workers.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Sounds like... (none / 0) (#85)
by rusty on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 10:04:07 AM EST

...a certain website. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Bravo! (2.66 / 3) (#58)
by blacksunrise on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 02:23:39 AM EST

And with not even a drop of sarcasm.

Fascinating and very well written. Very rarely do I really read an entire article - hyperlinks included.

And I even got a bit emo on the dying bee story.

"He who angers you conquers you."~Elizabeth Kenny

Wow and Thank You. (none / 1) (#61)
by Yaroslav The Wise on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 12:57:42 PM EST

I missed this in the Diaries section, but am very glad you posted a full story with links to the diaries. Bees are quite fascinating and your writing helped enhance that fascination. I was forced to learn something about bees when a swarm moved into my attic and walls on July 4th weekend. Because I knew nothing and freaked, I found a bee buster and had them forcefully removed (using the chrysanthemum-based gas). Where I live, we have had dozens of swarms and lots of stories of Africanized Killer Bees. The bee buster told me not to be fooled by the media hype about killer bees. He said the only real difference he has seen is that they tend to swarm a lot more frequently. I was never told if my attic swarm was killer or not. The removal process was quick and easy and fascinating in its own right. Cruel or not, I could not have them living in my attic and walls. That would have been destructive.

Fantastic. (2.50 / 2) (#62)
by swifty on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 01:34:37 PM EST

Thanks for reminding me why I started coming here for reading material in the first place.

Freiheit ist immer auch die freiheit des anderen.
I Love Bees (1.66 / 3) (#64)
by sakusha on Sat Oct 29, 2005 at 07:35:16 PM EST


Is it really necessary to be a... (1.00 / 3) (#67)
by bighappyface on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 04:47:10 AM EST

...cunt to your neighbors, or could you possibly address their concerns in a courteous, neighborly fashion, like a real human being?

It depends. (none / 0) (#68)
by xC0000005 on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 10:57:52 AM EST

entirely on the tack they take. I've had lengthy discussions with my closest neighbors, and fairly informative ones with those a couple houses down each direction. The most frustrating questions happen to come from people who live further down the street, or on an adjoining one. My tolerance for complaints/annoying questions drops as you get further from my house.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Yes... (none / 0) (#71)
by buddhaseviltwin on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 12:13:37 PM EST

  Being contemptuous is just as integral to being a human as being courteous.

  You shouldn't underestimate cruelty's role in cultivating an advanced society.

[ Parent ]

Good stuff... (3.00 / 2) (#69)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 11:10:58 AM EST

"Engaging story teller" and "has interesting hobbies" combine to make for the best pieces on K5.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
+1 good news! (none / 1) (#70)
by A synx on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 12:05:30 PM EST

Based on personal experience, not common to most of us, and not about politics or war.  Bravo!  Bees are neat. ^.^  I still kill my mint to keep 'em away though. -.-

Great Post! (none / 0) (#72)
by cribcage on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 12:50:43 PM EST

To be the 374th person to say it: This is a great post. Thank you. People with hobbies are always more interesting; and when they can write well, we all benefit.

Please don't read my journal.
Shame I missed voting (none / 1) (#73)
by Have A Nice Day on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 02:19:00 PM EST

you would have had a +10 from me.

Best thing on K5, makes me want to keep bees. Shame I have no space to and live with someone that has to carry adrenalin at all times in case of a bee or wasp sting......

Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
Thanks (none / 1) (#78)
by xC0000005 on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 10:00:57 PM EST

I haven't responded to each comment of this sort, because it just feels strange typing "Thanks" a bunch of times. I enjoyed writing the diary entries, riddled with factual errors though they be (they reflect, unfortunately, my understanding as best it was at the point where each was written).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Keeping bees in Vic, Aus (none / 1) (#74)
by coljac on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 08:13:56 PM EST

I have a friend who's an animal behaviourist specializing in ants, plus I recently re-watched Starship Troopers, so it's a natch I was interested in this article. Colony insects are very interesting - how is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? I once saw Leafcutter ants in Panama - they build roads (construction), harvested leaves (industry), and mulched them to grow edible fungus (agriculture). But the individual ants are mindless.

Until I had some trouble I was about to buy a house and thought I would try this hobby. For those in my state, here are the applicable laws from the Victorian Dept of Primary Industry. Not too onerous, you have to pay $11.50 to register as a beekeeper, paint a number on your hive, and practice some sensible precautions to prevent bothering the neighbours (such as keeping docile queens and preventing swarms).

That settles it, I want to be an insect God.

Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

Terrific (none / 0) (#77)
by debacle on Sun Oct 30, 2005 at 09:21:06 PM EST

Really. Thanks.

It tastes sweet.
I can see it now... (none / 0) (#79)
by Ward57 on Mon Oct 31, 2005 at 08:15:02 AM EST

<his honor> So, why did you paint all of the ground floor windows of  xC0000005's home yellow? </his honor>
<nieghbour> Well, first he filled my garden with stinging insects, </nieghbour>

man (none / 1) (#80)
by Battle Troll on Mon Oct 31, 2005 at 10:03:15 AM EST

What an astonishingly original idea for a strategy game! You should polish a proposal up and submit it to Blizzard or something.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
sorta been done (none / 0) (#91)
by demi on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 03:58:07 PM EST

There was SimAnt after all. Didn't make big waves but I really enjoyed it. If it were done nowadays, you would be leveling your workers with pollen collecting grind missions and buying Royal Jelly on eBay.

[ Parent ]
enjoyable (none / 0) (#81)
by cibby on Mon Oct 31, 2005 at 06:50:58 PM EST

An excellent article, and easy on the eyes.

When you take honey out of the hive, do you replace it with something? Sugar? Maple syrup? Coca-cola?

What happens if you blow marijuana smoke into the hive?

So many questions, so few bees.

Harvest (none / 0) (#82)
by xC0000005 on Mon Oct 31, 2005 at 08:40:27 PM EST

The harvested honey in the type of hive I keep comes from boxes specifically for honey.  The hive has honey in the brood area that it uses for food.  

If I blew marijuana smoke at the bees, I have no idea, but perhaps they'd go a little crazy. :)  Some keepers used to use pipes & blow tobacco smoke at them (some still might).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

Bees make honey (1.00 / 4) (#86)
by weedaddict on Wed Nov 02, 2005 at 02:15:27 PM EST

Reality has a certain cynical bias - Cattle Rustler
O RLY? (1.00 / 9) (#88)
by Makenzie Smith on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 08:10:15 AM EST


The current issue of California Monthly ... (none / 0) (#89)
by Ignore Amos on Thu Nov 03, 2005 at 12:38:42 PM EST

... provided this link of topical interest.

And that explains why airplanes carry cargo on small boats floating in their cargo aquarium. - jmzero

Bees are Okay! (none / 1) (#90)
by Aidan Maconachy on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 02:09:20 PM EST

Lessons from the Hive is an apt title. I had a friend In the UK who tried raising bees and he was pretty apprehensive about being around the hives, needlessly concerned as it turned out. This passage gets it right ... "I keep my bees in my back yard. They are up against an six foot fence, out of site of the road, in what was once a rose garden. My wife originally believed that the hive would be like a machine gun nest, firing out angry bees from across the yard at my daughters as they run and play. We know better now. A healthy hive with a docile queen and nothing disturbing it cares nothing for the humans around it. Incidentally, "disturbing" means "sticking things into the entrance and moving them around". Things like running by the hive, hitting it with a ball, or other such actions don't tend to arouse my bees at all. A clear flight path and a safe home is all they desire. My daughters stand a few feet away while I inspect the hive (always eager for comb honey). My dogs sit on the screen around the hive, eating bees (and occasionally getting stung). My neighbors remark on how well their gardens do. Me? I enjoy working with the bees." The reputation of bees as attack insects has been hyped out of proportion. In order to trigger an attack you would need to do as the writer suggests - assault the hive with a stick or act in a similarly aggressive fashion. I live in a rural area and have two vegetable gardens. We get a lot of bees. They especially love the yellow flowers of the brocolli plant. Often I work in the same area as the bees, shirtless and a wide open target, but I've never been stung once. Wasps are another matter though. They will attack if you get into their space.

Bees and Ants (none / 0) (#94)
by Rezvid on Tue Nov 22, 2005 at 08:02:39 AM EST

Bees might provide more tangible rewards, but I am still trying to find good info on how ant hills work.. The whole swarm technology thing is what I find fascinating.

Here's my bee story ... (none / 0) (#95)
by jellyman on Mon May 01, 2006 at 10:17:56 AM EST

When I was one and a half year old i stepped infront of my grandpa's beehives .. I got 150 stinges and were in a hospital for several months. We lived together, but Grandpa kept the bees ... I was afraid of the bees ever since .. but two years ago .. my grandpa died .. and now believe it or not I have become a beekeeper. ;) I'm glad I was able to watch my grandpa for years and his beehives are my precious memory ... Now I raise bees and even produce queens and some royal jelly ... Well .. the thing is because of my early childhood bee accident I developed a mild bee sting allergy ... the allergy sypthoms have been with me for 20 years .. But now that I'm beekeeping I get app 3 stinges per week .. and i sort of developed immunity .. a get almost no swealling after i get stinged .. before i was swealling big time.
Lessons from the Hive | 93 comments (74 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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