Yesterday was the regular meeting of the Kanawha Valley Beekeepers’ Association. There were more people in attendance than I have seen in a meeting before but as usual there was a huge gap in the age range. Fred and I, generally, are the youngest people in attendance, however, yesterday was an anomaly. Fred and I are normally on time for most things but I have felt bad for the last several days, staving off a rotten head ache that has spread down my neck and into my shoulders so we were late for the meeting by about thirty minutes.
The meetings always start with a little meet and greet and socializing. Beekeepers, like the insects we tend, are social creatures and enjoy interacting with like kind. People bring snacks and coffee and chit chat, for the first thirty minutes or so of the meeting, about their hives and any news of local interest regarding bees. Fred and I arrived right as the social aspect of the meeting was winding down and everyone was beginning to take their seats.
We quickly took our customary seats on the back row and I did a quick glance around as the treasure read his report. I was surprised to see a young woman approximately my age, sharply dressed and sitting on the back row several seats to my right. She had the look of a quirky professional about her dressed neatly in pressed shorts and a blouse. She had a large sleeve tattoo of a gothic looking doll down her right arm which kind of threw off the whole young republican thing she had going on but gave her a much more someone-I-might-talk-to look. I made note to speak to her after the meeting was over.
She had a small notebook on her lap and it looked to already be filled with copious notes. I thought that was a little strange since we were only minutes into the treasurer’s report and frankly, I never find the seven dollars or so he has spent on stamps to be terribly interesting, but whatever. As the meeting progressed the state inspector gave a talk about fall maintenance and medication.
Now Fred and I are not of the same school of thought as a lot of the old time beekeeper. There is this mentality among them that bees must be medicated at regular intervals in case they may be affected with mites or brood foul or some other bee malady. We are of the opinion that this is the same school of thought as giving your children antibiotics twice a year whether they need them or not. All that does is build up better more antibiotic resistance bacteria it does not do much to prevent illness in the first place. Although the state inspector momentarily touched on this theory the general consensus overall is that bees need some kind of treatment every year. So mostly I just sit quietly through these lectures. As the saying goes; as 5 beekeepers a question and you will get 10 different answers.
Our new beekeeping compatriot was not nearly as mum, although her questions leaned more towards the conspiracy theories of Monsanto research and less towards the technical aspects of beekeeping. I have never, in the year of beekeeping meetings we have attended, seen anyone take so many notes through a meeting. It was like she was writing her dissertation on the practices of a beekeeping meeting.
After the meeting we once again indulge our beekeeper tendencies towards social interaction and stand around chatting about how we all disagree with everything the speaker said and with each other. (Note: if you have a grumpy disposition or lean towards being a curmudgeon beekeeping & beekeeper’s meetings are for you!) I spoke to several of the old gents who have been great if not grouchy resources for our beekeeping endeavors and as I was making my way across the room I saw the furious note taker slip out the door.
I could not help but let my imagination wander down my favorite conspiracy paths. I think maybe she was a student writing a paper about beekeeping, or maybe a reporter working on an article about chemicals in agriculture or maybe, even more nefarious, a Monsanto spy, ready to sue us all for misusing their patented soybeans. Obviously, I spend too much time alone in my head with my overactive imagination. I would have liked to talk to her, especially if she really is interested in beekeeping. It would be nice to have some peers our own age take an interest in something that is so vital to our food source. Oh well, if she comes back in November I will make it a point to speak to her (if we are on time).
As for our bees we intend to get in our hives today if the rain holds off. If not I will get in them later in the week. We are considering another hive split before fall and we need to check for mites. We hope to harvest our first super of honey this week but we will need to call the department of agriculture to rent the extractor. All in all the bees are still very much alive and seem to be thriving in spite of or because of our best efforts. Who knows?
Thanks for reading,