I got my first stings of the season this morning. Overdue, really. Except I got caught in that not-helpful mind loop of: you got stung because you are stressed. No. Getting stung made me stressed. Well maybe you are trying to hide your crabbiness from the bees and they see through it. But - the stinging made me crabby! ...sigh. Regardless, more honey supers were added; tall enough now that I can't see into the top box, and could barely see into the one below that. Should have harvested a week ago. This is the first time we will have two harvests in one year.
This marks my fifth (wow) year of beekeeping, and my fourth time harvesting without you Matthew P. It has been different each year After and Since - the first fall, a horrible bumbling experience with strangers who claimed experience, followed by a repeat effort with broken extractors shooting blue sparks while your friend, her daughter, and I stuck screwdrivers into the wiring to try and make it work. The second fall was sweeter and quiet, though my heart was too broken to feel anything but sad. I didn't even harvest last year; just didn't have it in me, and the bees didn't either. This year, however, those honey boxes are full full full, and I need to find a team to stand in your stead.
The peach tree that used to stand beside our hives is gone. That first fall as beekeepers, we harvested honey and dipped ripe peaches into broken combs - excellent timing, that tree. The yard owners took it down last year, or maybe the year before, after years of declining yields. The seat we built beneath the tree, where you used to go each morning to meditate and watch the bees, that is gone too. There's not really a place for a seat now. I don't watch them like we did; I rarely check on them. Not the way we did together, anyway. I'm disappointed in myself that I am not calm around the bees as I was Before. I am a lazy beekeeper now, and feel less confident, that's for sure.
But I will begin to assemble a team - harder than it seems, as I'm finding many people afraid of bees - and be full of wonder and awe and all of that again, slicing open the comb, seeing the colors, guessing at their source. It was such a celebration that first year. The following years, while not grim, were simply efficient. This year, I think, it will be a celebration again. Although a very different one.
My hand is swelling some. Time for homeopathics and benadryl. And more emails finding people unafraid of bees, or willing to become that way.