Friday, April 13, 2012

A Literal Bee in My Actual Bonnet

I got up early on a recent Saturday for a field trip to the bee yard run by my local beekeepers association. I put my beekeeper's hat and veil on and it fell down over my eyes. Maybe I had it on backwards. I turned it around and looked in the mirror. That didn't look right either. I was glad my family wasn't awake to enjoy this awkward moment with me. I contemplated what to wear since I hadn't ordered my nifty bee suit yet. I put on a white shirt with long sleeves and tucked it into jeans. I dusted off my L.L. Bean hikers and tucked my jeans into my socks. I skipped my daily routine of orange coconut body cream and lavender moisturizer. I didn't want to seem too much like something a swarm of bees would be interested in. I skipped make-up too. Just to be safe. Besides who was going to see my face in the contraption I was wearing on my head? I did put lipstick on.

A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

I arrived at the designated meeting spot and met up with some other women new to beekeeping. We carpooled to the bee yard and donned our gear. An experienced beekeeper who tends the yard gave us a demonstration of how a smoker works. His was black and grimy. I pictured my shiny new one and wondered how many years he'd been doing this. We headed to the hives amid nervous chatter. He began to remove the covers from the hives and pull out the frames.

"Now, y'all see if you can find the queen in there."

He passed off that frame, then another, pointing out interesting things he saw. He handed off frame after frame.

"Now y'all don't drop it whatever you do!"

Someone carefully handed a frame to me. I gripped it tightly. I did not want to be the klutz who dropped the man's bee covered frame after his stern warning. It vibrated and hummed with action in my hands. I could feel it even through my thick gloves. Now up until this moment the beekeeping idea had been something I  wanted to do, but was also worried about. I'll confess to yelling for my husband to kill any bug that mistakenly finds its way into the house. I wondered how I would react to thousands of swarming bees. After several hives were opened up the bees were everywhere. In the air, swarming around us, they landed on us in clusters. One made its way inside my veil. I tried not to think of it crawling in my ear or stinging me in the eye. I calmly asked someone if they could see it, and they helped it find its way out.

Oddly, there was nothing unnerving about being surrounded by the bees, or having them crawl on me. The most upsetting thing about the entire experience was that I hadn't thought more about what hairstyle would be most practical..(.and no, it wouldn't bee a beehive).  It kept falling into my face and once you get the veil on, you tie it around your torso, which makes it impossible to mess with your hair.

Not having direct access to your own face is disconcerting. Suddenly your nose itches and you have something in your eye. Oh, it's your hair. Attempts to adjust hat, veil, and hair with thick gloves on only made matters worse.

Next time I will know to employ all manner of pins, headbands, and scarves to prevent Hair Collapse Syndrome. A little known beekeeping malady.

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