Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bee business

Having lost 19 hives this month from an unexpected freeze, we set out this morning to replace some of the foundation in the 8 hives we will be replacing bees in on Tuesday. It was a wonderful day to go visit Beverly at Miller Bee Supply and to have breakfast out -- a double treat!

When we arrived, Beverly was as thrilled to see us as we were to see her and Presley. Ends up, they have experienced unexpected growth, now having more than 17 employees. This is wonderful for many reasons; they are a family business, started by Presley's daddy who was a cabinet maker and bee keeper; they are a local business and are hiring local folks who have lost textile jobs to overseas markets; the money they make stays here; and they are just nice folks who work hard and have earned their success. That being said, there is a downside. They are just big enough now that the Federal Government (OSHA) is now interested in their business. Yeppers; for all the talk about local businesses and entreprenualship, the Feds have found a way to make life difficult for the little guy. Beverly shared with us that some of the changes they had to make only had a three-day window. Being a small business, she and Presley manage all the affairs of the business as well as work physically, either building, shipping, or waiting on customers, 10-12 hours a day. Why can't the Feds stay out of these small family businesses and focus more on the CEOs who are earning millions instead of a family business?

But, on the positive side, isn't it wonderful, too, that there are more beekeepers? Given that there has been such a decline in bee populations, it is great to see more people getting into beekeeping. Einstein said, "Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”

Bees are the most fascinating insect. They are masters as teamwork; they understand cause and effect; and they are committed to one goal -- keeping the queen and her brood chambers cared for. Whilst being a queen bee isn't all it is cracked up to be -- they live in the dark all their lives except for ONE mating flight from which they lay all their eggs for up to nine years -- bees, as a whole, are most interesting to watch. They are curious and will note anything that is added or moved in their space. They are good indicators of weather as they go to the hive should the weather be due to change, regardless of what the weatherman says. Honey is a natural antibiotic and will cure a burn. And, honey never goes bad. It will keep for centuries!

And, while I can't get Don to paint the hive purple to match the barns, we have eight nice hives ready for the gals when they come. Oh, yeah, did I mean the best part of beekeeping is that the hive is nearly all female?? Gotta love 'em!

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