Last year I had the pleasure of sitting in the audience while a beekeeper named John Miller gave a talk about his operation. Here he's promoting a wonderful read by Hannah Nordhaus:
Yes, Miller is somewhat famous. In the small world of beekeeping, that is.
He's also funny and very insightful. He got talking about pollination and the great service that honeybees do for humanity.
"Bees are known as the 'angels of agriculture.' That may very well be... but it doesn't fit us... their keepers. If bees are the angels, I'd have to say beekeepers are a closer fit with prostitutes. The dirty whores of agriculture."
Miller walked back and forth across the conference room, clicking powerpoint slides in quick succession. He was talking about pollination season in the California almonds.
"See if you follow me: -We're dirty. Most of us, I mean. Showers and suits are not on top of the priority list, you know? -We frequent cheap motels. -We come and go at any ungodly hour of the night. -We work by night, we're gone by morning. -We take their money for services preformed. -And we like quick cash..."
He had the audience laughing. He had me thinking back about my own California almond experience. Yep... the prostitutes of agriculture.
I for one, enjoy the work. I really do. It's kinda hard when you're not set up with hives on pallets like we were in California. These days every hive is lifted by hand, put up on the truck.
And it really is an all night job, as Miller alluded.
But it's important. I love the feeling that what I'm doing matters. Without bees in the orchards, the vegetables, the nuts, the berries... there's a lot less of the good stuff in the diet. Pollination is a valuable service. And it's not like there's a beekeeper around every corner with a couple hundred hives. So it's nice to feel needed.
This year we took 120 strong hives into the apples:
At the Lynd Fruit Farm the trees were a few days away from bloom.
Most of the hives were scattered throughout the orchard on hay wagons. Here, and at the Bachman Fruit Farm.
The bees worked diligently.
A little apple pollination perk, courtesy of Lester Lynd:
The bees returned home after a couple of weeks. Just in the nick of time for our flowering crabapple.
Another sweet perk of apple pollination:
Strong hives! Many were heavy with honey.
Some of the hives were taken directly to the out-yards where we hope they'll make a good crop of spring honey. Others were promptly loaded back up about a week later and taken south.
The Bainbridge area has a large Amish and Mennonite settlement. And these folks grow a lot of produce.
|Ah, those Happy Industrious Mennonites.|
Much of which needs bees.
I spent an enjoyable morning driving around with Mr. Zimmerman, placing bees on vine crops.
Most growers knew exactly where they wanted the bees.
One guy was ready with a hive stand:
And these guys left little doubt:
The bees, I mean.