Thursday, May 15, 2008

Enter the Bee Lady... (and a contest)

Dr. Laura Hershey, Bee Lady, Chiropractor, Sculptor and Avid Surfer, showed up at 6:00 AM to deal with our bees.

She is a DELIGHTFUL personality. And, as a non-morning person, I can't say that about many people at 6:00 AM. Maybe not even any.

But Laura is one of those people (and we've all stumbled across them at various points in our life) that you're just so glad you had the chance to meet. She's truly an individual, very comfortable with what she's doing and where she's at. She's kind and patient and full of interesting tidbits of bee information.

So, Laura arrives. She's got thick dark-framed glasses and polka-dot rubber boot ("wellies" for those of you out there who use the term). She's dressed in her beekeeper's outfit, including long, thick gloves and a hat with netting.

Her equipment: an empty cardboard box that was originally used for holding clay. And two old sheets. One is a faded floral print; the other is a children's sheet with a fun animal motif. I distinctly remember a bunch of surfing pigs and several passive grazing sheep.

Laura observes our bees and informs me that we have a friendly colony of European honey bees.

I feel a little parental proudness about the friendly part. Like the Summy family would even consider hosting mean, African bees in their garden!

Before calling me outside, this is what Laura does: She places a sheet on the ground in the garden. Next, she sets the open and empty card box on the ground next to the cable box. She removes the cable box lid, reaches in and picks up a ball of bees and wax, then shakes said ball over the open card board box. A TON of bees land in the box, including the queen. Laura folds over the flaps on the card box, but doesn't seal it. This means bees can still fly in and out.

I join the scene to see many bees perched on one of the flaps, their little bee bottoms up in the air, their little wings flapping furiously. There is a very definite smell of caramel. Laura explains that the caramel smell tells the bees not yet in the box that a nice new home has been found and invites them to come on in.

After a while, Laura doublewraps the card board box in both sheets and places it in the hatchback of her car. She's transporting our bees to Boulevard, CA (about 65 miles southeast of San Diego, very close to the Mexican border) where she has a friend who keeps bees.

Laura tells me that, by next fall, our bees will have produced some very delicious sage honey. I'm going to call her in October to see if we can drive down to Boulevard to buy some of that honey. And visit our bees. No, no, of course, we won't bring Child #3.

Apparently, there will be some bee activity around the cable box for about a week. There were bees who, for whatever reason, didn't buy into the caramel smell and didn't join their colony in the card board box. And there were bees who were already out foraging and will return to an empty hive. Without a queen, these bees will not start a new colony, but will provide snacks for sparrows and crows.

And here's a SHOCKING AND SCARY NUMBER: Laura estimates there were FOUR THOUSAND bees in our colony!!!! (one exclamation mark per thousand)

I did get some pictures. With Laura's cell phone. My camera's battery had died.

This is Dr. Laura Hershey, (well, her hand, boot and leg!) the bee lady, with the card board box of bees.

Another shot of Laura by the garden.

Laura doublesheets the card board box.

If you live in San Diego county and are ever in need of the bee lady, here's her contact info. Also, I didn't ask, but I bet she'd be willing to do a class visit. Okay, here's the info:

Dr. Laura Hershey, 4783 Pescadero Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 222-5299

Now, how about a contest for those of you persistent souls who made it through this loooong post?

Between now and Monday at midnight my time (Pacific), guess what's the most number of stings Laura has sustained in a single episode. Post your number in the comments section. The closest person wins an ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) of Julia Gillian by Alison McGhee or The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman. The first ARC is a middle-grade novel; the second is young adult.

AND AND AND I'll toss in one of the famous I So Don't Do Mysteries Hershey Crunch bars!


Laura said...

That is CRAZY!

WOW - what an adventure!

Family Adventure said...

Isn't that fascinating?? Does Dr. Laura do long distance visits? Say to Canada? :)

My guess....I don't know whether to go high or low. So I'm going high with 137.


Beth said...

Dr. Hershey - "Bee Lady, Chiropractor, Sculptor and Avid Surfer." I feel like a slug in comparison.
Fascinating post but I hope I ever need such services.

Bina said...

LOVE the story, and you can bet I read the whole thing! Just fascinating. And considering Kekoa once got stung 17 times in about 30 seconds, I'm going to go with .... hmmmmmm, I don't know. I'm going to be logical, but it may back fire!

She alway wears the suit I'm assuming; and she knows that she is doing. I mean, it's not like she KICKS them, like Kekoa did! LOL

But still, one episode... I'm going to say 67, just because it popped in to my head and the logical thinking did me NO good at all! LOL

Shelli said...

Fascinating! I'm glad your bees are going to a new home that you can visit and also enjoy some of their honey!!

Hmmm....I am a terrible guesser. I have a hard time thinking she may have never been stung, but I'm going to say zero! Maybe she's that good!

Mrs. Annie said...

Great post! Wow!

I'll have to say 75 stings. Ouch!

brian_ohio said...

Barrie... you gave the answer in your post.

4 exclamation marks, times the number of polka dot boots, times the number of sheets, add 3 for child #3 and we get....

19 Bee Stings.

Now fork over the goodies.

~Virginia~ said...

crap! 4,000?!?! i'd move. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

We have a bee tree about 200 yards from our house, which is cool. Eurpoean bees I'm pretty sure since I've been pretty close without being attacked.

My entry for the contest is 25 stings. I think that's the most she's ever gotten.

spyscribbler said...

That was fascinating! I'm going to throw in a guess for 112. LOL.

Wow! That was really a cool post, Barrie. It'd be cool to write a book about a girl like her!

Barrie said...

Spy, I'm sure she will end up in a book. She was just so much fun. :) Hope you got your awards sorted out.

HipWriterMama said...

She sounds like a brave woman. Number of stings--how about 45?

Monnik said...

my guess is 64.

but yowza. that would hurt.

gautami tripathy said...

A wild guess?

around 150?


WordVixen said...

I'm guessing Zero (0). You did say specifically in an episode! :)

A friend once told me that bees will get angry if they smell a banana skin because banana skins smell like dead bees to bees. Did that make sense? :-D I don't suppose the good doctor said anything about that?

Barrie said...

Wordvixen: No, she didn't say anything about bananas and bees. Sounds interesting and weird....

(The contest is to guess the most number of stings in a single episode.)

Anonymous said...

Pat Posner says:

I'm guessing she got stung once - on her first ever episode.

Sally Lawton said...

I really admire how clever bees are, but I'm very scared of them at the same time!! Sounds like a great adventure :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

WOW. I love that there's a way to get rid of a colony of bees without killing them. Who knew...

I'll guess 100.

And you have candy bars for your book!!! That's so cool. (I obviously haven't been reading your blog enough.)

Mac and Cheese said...

I liked that no bees were harmed in this story (excluding the ones that became snacks, but hey, that's the food chain for ya)

Anonymous said...

I think you've got an incredible nonfiction kids' book here. You know, in your "free" post.

I'm glad your bees are happy & healthy and GONE. :)

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Four thousand--wow!!!! ! (one extra exclaimation mark for the ones left behind).

barb said...

Hi Barrie,
I am going to say most stings as 6 in a single episode. She sounds like a very interesting (not to mention prepared and professional)character for your next book. Did you warn her? Were you wearing your t-shirt?