Officially Technological

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Moving Bees/An Advertisement for Home

I think it's this time of year that I feel most homesick. I always thought it would be Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or my birthday, but really I think it's in the summer. It's the sounds the smells and the feel of a Michigan summer that is simply unbeatable. The nights are cool, with long, lingering blue twilights (twilight is my favorite time of day). I remember when I was a kid I used to "move bees" with my dad.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my family, my dad is a bee-keeper in the north east portion of the lower peninsula. In the northern part of the state, farmers raise a lot of cash crops (I think that's what they're called), like cucumbers, peppers, etc. And unlike most plants, cucumbers are not pollinated by the wind. They have to pollinated by bees. So, farmers paid my dad to unload a few hives into their cucumber fields.

It was a pretty good gig, especially for me, because for me it was about the least amount of work I could do with fewest stings (unless we dropped a hive off the forklift, which happened sometimes) and the most money per hour. It was also not a job you preformed in the heat of the day when the bees were out of their hives, but in the cool of the evening or in the early morning. Most of the time, "moving bees" went something like this. We would leave the house around 7:30 or so and drove my dad's huge, flat bed truck (that was from the 70's) with his orange fork lift (a converted tractor with big tires) about a half an hour north (which says nothing for how many miles it is, because on a good day with perfect conditions my dad's truck could only go about 60 mph). Once we got to where we were going, it was still inevitably too hot or too sunny, so we would go to one of several greasy spoons that we haunted in the summers. We would have an ice cream or a piece of pie or my dad would have a cup of coffee, and I would have a Coke and some candy until it "cooled down". Then we would we drive the big truck out to the job site, smoke the bees with a little smoker to make them sleepy, and my dad would take his forklift and load them on the back of his flat bed. Then we would drive out to the cucumber patch and unload the bees. I'm not sure if you understand yet how this was such a good gig. My entire list of responsibilities included:

However, my favorite part about moving bees were the nights that my dad had to move lots of bees into a remote field and it took him a long time to unload all the bees, because on those nights (even at 14 or 15 years old) I realized that it in the calm, hazy, summer twilight, that Michigan was perfect. I would stand there on some little tractor lane, often by a small crick (or less romantically, a drain ditch), listening to the crickets, watching indigo flood the sky, breathing in sweet, warm air and admiring how beautiful it was.

Don't get me wrong, I've always been and always will be a city girl. "Urban," is how Brian often describes my clothing and preferred lifestyle. But when I hear crickets, or see mist coming off a body of water, or smell that familiar and sweet smell of earth, I think of home and I think about moving bees with my dad. And I remember again how great Michigan is in the summer.

posted by Julie at 7:52 PM


Man, I should have done an 'internship' with your dad! Why didn't you tell me all this before, Julie? ;]

6/8/08 07:19  

I rightly believe there is a new Aunt Emma birthing on the horizon!!! You have to admit, though, nothing can beat God's beauty!!!

6/8/08 09:04  

Somehow I remember working harder than that!!


6/8/08 11:49  

Man what a narrative. I can feel the Michigan summer twilights, hear the bees and the creek, and taste the ice cream... oh how I miss Michigan!!!!

6/8/08 18:11  

I have to disagree with Lisa. Typically moving bees wasn't much harder than that. It was only if the weather was really hot and steamy or dad tipped over a hive that things got dicey. It's "supering" that was the hard, hot, nasty work. You'll have to blog about the joys of supering so Caitlin gets a little more realistic view of what an internship with dad would be like :)

11/8/08 07:26  

Yep, moving bees was glory. Supering was awful and tiring, and I was always paranoid about getting stung, so I would wear jeans and t-shirts and boots, and then wear the bee suit over that (instead of shorts and a tank top). And then you get way back there in the woods with and it's as still as a grave, no breeze what-so-ever in the sweltering sun... I don't sweat very much, but let me tell you, I was almost always drenched in sweat.

11/8/08 08:46  

Wow Babe! I am homesick for Michigan after reading this. I don't even like bees. I think I will put the house up for sale when I get home today.

11/8/08 11:06  

yeah. Michigan is perfect.

Also, you hate working bees. You told me so lots of times at the time, so I know it's true.

Also, I want some bees.

11/8/08 13:20  

Well Peggy and Julie must have never learned the entirety of the the job!

12/8/08 15:12  

I am the opposite of you I guess. I grew up in town, not a city really, but in town for sure, and now I still live in the city and I try to make it as rural as I can. Russ goes crazy because I keep putting in more vegetable beds, and then a clothesline and an above ground pool and I occasionally talk about getting chickens. Bees we have in abundance because I let the clover grow in the backyard. They don't really bother anyone unless you step on one. I also have a little happy moment whenever I hear the screen door creak.

15/8/08 12:04  

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