Sunday, December 12, 2010
March 7, 2010 - Beekeeping Class
March 7, 2010 - Beekeeping Class
After taking several classes in Agriculture and still attending to Organic Horticulture at my farm (and feeling slightly bored), I started a new class in Beekeeping.
My first task was to find a site for the class. I introduced them to one of my neighbors that live near the restaurant. They are five older people, one of them being a woman. We approached their fence in a group of four (the instructor, the program coordinator, and the local president of the farmer’s union, and myself) with a hope of using their property as I knew someone kept bees there. The old man didn’t even get up the chair he was sitting in. Slowly, other man approched, while the woman was watching from afar. “That’s not gonna happen here”, spoke the coordinator through her teeth. Frankly, if there is someone waiting for the eternity to come by soon, that’s them. Nothing seems to move or to enthused them. I had never talked to them before, except one time with the lady while she was visiting dona Rosa, who lives right crossing the road.
I, then, thought about another property. It’s an old Italian family community. Everyone knows them by “Tio Ze”, meaning Uncle Ze. He was very well known, I believe, for his leadership abilities that I didn’t get to know. He passed away a few months ago. In any case, several families still live there cultivating coffee and oranges. Many of them work at the town. Where is was once a lively place with lots of young people, today, there is only a few children going to school at the town. (Yesteryears, the children used to go to a rural school in the neighborhood.)
I drove the group through a dirt road to reach Lindaura’s house. She is the only person there that I have friendship with. It was my only reference. As we start talking to her husband, his brother soon joined us. We learned that he had done beekeeping before, but he had abandoned the activity. He was too busy with the orange crop to be able to participate in the class, but offered a site near a creek to place the hives.
We drove a beaten path by the coffee bushes and stoped before a fence used to restrain the cattle. A thin layer of what managed to survive of native wood by the also thin creek housed some bees. My first impression was that I would never to there alone or with someone who I didn’t trust enough. It looks like a forgoten place, even though, it is not creepy. It is just saddly stripped of what once was an imponent wooded area. The new ambiental laws should soon change that, making obligatory the reforestation of the areas near water. By the law, at least, 20 meters of native woods should follow the creek. Or soon, all the creeks are going to disappear.
The first beekeeping class was in town. The instructor who has a first German name, but stressed that he is actually Italian (I guess, it sounds friendlier), has a PhD in Beekeeping. He followed the book which started from History of bees and beekeeping. After a few minutes, an older man asked “why do we have to know about this? How can it be useful to extract honey?”. My Godness, we are going to have a loooong program.
Most students are men, two in his twenties, and most of them over 50, 60, and 70’s. Two other women besides me are the wives of two other participants. Thank God the housewives who used to attend other agriculture classes didn’t join this time. Or we were going to have even a longer program.
Today we had the second class. After a few misunderstanding about breakfast, we went to the site without eating. The assistant didn’t know that he had to order our sandwiches in town. I don’t understand why, even in small groups (we are 16 total), some people still get lost from the group. I had to drive back to try to find them. They had started the class moving around like dizzy bees.
As I had extra homebaked bread (that one, dona Rosa’s), I sliced them and brought to the site along with a big jug of hot coffee. One group was talking under a tree, while the other was seriously working to collect the bees, in order to transfer them to the box. A man who talks a lot, being somewhat inconvenient, had given up. He explained that, as he didn’t have gloves, he wore used socks in his hands, and as soon as he approached the bees, he got a sting. I had placed the breakfast near the working people, but there where way too entretained with logging the tree, taming the bees, and cutting the hives out, that they didn’t even acknowledge it. So, I brought it uphill near the people that were doing nothing. At this place, my breakfast was successful.
Overcoming the first fear of approaching the zooming bees, I came very close to take pictures and to learn. I had never seen a beehive. It was about four meters long. They had nestled inside the hollowed eucaliptus tree. The honeybee and the other kind of native bee (jatai) shared the same trunk. Jatai is a bee without the sting and with a highly prized honey which is extracted by using a seringe, so little its yield.
The eucaliptus tree was tall. The beehives entrance was also about 7 meters high. We had to attach a hose to the fumigator to be able to spread the smoke up high. All people wearing white with a safari straw hat and a netted mask. At first, it was suffocating. The same sensation given by a snorkle equipment when we use for the first time. We don’t believe we can breath through that. I almost panicked. But I walked away, took off the mask, and had some coffee. The familiar taste of coffee, in spite of the sugar and the caffeine, can endeed be soothing. After realizing that the cheap talk around the breakfast was worse than facing the bees, I headed the action place courageously. I didn’t really help, but I recorded the class. I also got some honey hives.
I had so much honey this afternoon that I feel stuffed and slightly hot, as if I were feverish. My father asked for dinner and I told him that he needed to eat leftover food from lunch.
The class was interesting. The bees are exciting. I needed this boost given by the honey. And, I didn’t needed the insomnia that hit me at night. Too much sugar, of good kind!