I got a tour of some very nice apartment complexes last night. Very crowded, with sticky walls about half an inch apart, and constant noise all around. One of the apartments contained only one empty room and is due for an upward remodel within a week or so before the inhabitants take off to find a more roomy home ;)
Bees are such an amazing creation of God! The experienced beekeeper who 'lent' me the five hives also gave me an old suit that needed some duct tape work but works great. He and I suited up and he showed me the routine, from lighting the smoker, to cleaning extra wax and propolis off the hives, to opening them and examining the queen, workers, new eggs and capped cells ready to hatch, bee pollen and the near-white clover honey in beautiful wax combs already forming after only a couple weeks. He made it seem so easy, and it truly was. Having bees crawl all over me didn't diminish my happiness in the least ;) There is absolutely nothing like holding a frame that is every inch swarming in honey bees.
My family was great - the whole lot of them stood at the far edge of the orchard at the beginning, craning to watch what they hoped would be their daughter's entertaining first attempt at apiculture. When they didn't hear the expected screams and see a mad dash for the nearest exit, they came closer. My littlest brother especially got up close to see the frames I was inspecting, and Abigail grinned as she proudly showed me a honey bee that landed on her hand and stayed for a visit.
Seriously, those are the sweetest bees. I love them already. This particular beekeeper helped me over the fear of the unknown, and his casual and comfortable way of handling the hives and tools made yesterday a great first experience for me. It really is easier than I imagined.
Guess what - since we have both been thinking of ways to avoid using medications on the bees, he is going to give me a vigorous bee tree and place them in a hive with only the top bars, no foundation, and see whether or not the bees will naturally build the small cells that should solve the tracheal mite problem. My own bees! All this includes free training, a share of the honey, and in addition, I may get to capture swarms that are called in from nearby towns. All this by God's grace!