View Full Version : Hey, Dad?

January 28th, 2016, 02:56 PM
Journal, June, 1963

My brother's eldest son, John, is pushing the age of six (he will begin school this fall). John feels it is high time he began helping his dad out in the bee yards. Most of this is hot, heavy labor – a little much for a boy of his age. But, if nothing else, he can go along and watch and perhaps make himself useful fetching and carrying tools and some of the smaller hive parts. So, his mother altered a small pair of white coveralls for him and sewed some canvas gauntlets onto a pair of small leather gloves. We fit him with a tie-down veil and bloused his pant legs around his galoshes.

So today was a bright, warm day in June and we decided to graft some new queens in the home yard in the orchard behind the house. We keep our breeding stock there where it is handy. My brother showed John how to open a hive: a puff of smoke at the entrance; pry the lid up about an inch and send in a puff of smoke there; slowly remove the lid; pry up the inner-cover an inch and give it a puff; etc. We found a frame with newly hatched eggs and brushed the bees off of it, trying to create as small a disturbance as possible. We carried it to the truck about 30 feet away so we could use the bed as a table. John was given the smoker and was instructed to give the open hive a little puff every now and then, just to keep the girls' heads down.

He asked his dad, “How many puffs?”

His dad said, “Oh, not too many. Just one every once in a while.”

“Well, is a hundred OK?” John asked.

“Yeah a hundred is fine.”

I am the myopic one in the family, so I got to do the grafting. Without a veil on, I could see to the bottom of a worker cell and spot the tiny larva floating on a dab of royal jelly. I would pick up the larva with a grafting spoon and transfer it to one of the queen cups I had molded the night before. We were only going to do fifteen of them today and the work was proceeding quickly.

Suddenly, we heard John's voice, “Hey Dad!”

“Yeah! What?”

We looked at John. His head was visible above a dense cloud of smoke. “Hey, Dad, what comes after 47?”

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