The cold season has arrived, with a thump, and most of the bee-oriented concerns revolve around temperatures and wind speed, and repeated reassurances (from self and husband) that honeybees have been through this before. For millenia. In even tougher locations. With less food. (Chant the former as often as necessary to reassert psychic well-being...)
Temperatures were actually my primary concern on the morning this picture was taken, November 19, 2005, in the Green Room at Animal Planet. We (the bees and I) were due at the studios at 1 PM to potentially participate in an upcoming special about people with weird pets. I'd responded to a call for stories, telling myself that it would be a good thing to get people to think about bees and see how wonderful they can be. What seems likelier, however, is that I had a double-secret underground agenda to be able to show that this beekeeping thing was as noteworthy a passtime as actually working for a living, something I will eventually have to start doing again.
The problem with the whole project was this: temperatures that topped 70 degrees F earlier in the week were not breaking 40 by Friday, and cold bees are dead bees. David, the president of the beekeeper's association of which I am a member, lent me the observation hive you see here, but I still would have to pop open a colony and move frames through the cold air into the warm box. I hovered around (as I do) all morning, planning to call in and cancel, and then, around noon, the Carniolans started to fly. These are the bees of Wilde, the weaker colony, the one I did not intend to bother. But there they were, and some quick research indicated that they were the more cold tolerant breed anyway. I grabbed three frames from a honey super, maybe 1000-2000 bees, less than I would have from lower down but also less risk to the queen and the colony as a whole. Plus these TV folks don't know nuthin anyway...it would still look like a bunch of bees.
My hubby drove me to the studio in the mini because it had GPS to guide us, but it was a horribly bumpy ride in such a tiny car. *Sigh* The guy in the picture with me is Ian, a production assistant, and I assure you that the production assistants are far nicer than the on-air staff and more deserving of being featured here. Only when working on the picture did I discover the lunatic quality of my hair (no makeup artist assigned to me!) In the Green Room, I got to hold a foot long African millipede and touch a Tarantula. Guess it was bug day. Once we were called to the studio, the sound guy got this look of wonder on his face and said, "Wow, I can hear them!" and I believe a bee fan was born.
The interviewer was kind of dismissive, I thought, but so what. I figured there was more potential that they would make me look like a whack job than a role model, and this seemed to confirm it. However, they did ask good questions, including what the bees had done for me. Never thought about that. I said that they had brought me wonder and connection, a sort of real time tuning-in to the world around me. At the end, the producer (I think that is what he was, he was also the camera man) told me that I was the only interviewer who was clearly enraptured with her critters. That sounds OK to me.
Best part: after the mikes and cameras were off, everyone in the room gathered around the bees, asking questions and making exclamations. Even the interviewer who put me off before could not resist. Go you golden girls!
If this segment is included, me and the girls will be on during Animal Planet's primetime programming on Valentine's Day. You heard the buzz first right here.