I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned here yet that somehow I’ve turned into the Reluctant Beekeeper. As in, there are almost 700 hives, the beekeeper quit, and someone has to help figure this mess out. Prior to a few months ago, I think I knew that there were hives. And that bees lived in the hives. And that bees sting, and that I don’t like getting stung. So who knew that this addition to my already overloaded life was about to crop up? For weeks now I’ve been reading very thick books from the UC Davis library, trying to glean the most essential information for the task at hand. Or should I say, trying to figure out what the task at hand is, and do something about it. Bees are a lot like computers. There is a strange vocabulary that accompanies the pursuit, known formally as "apiary". Beekeeping articles talk about "supers" and "nucs" and "queen excluders" and "frames" in the same way computer geeks lovingly discuss "RAM" and "optical disks". And like computers, half the battle is sorting out all the arcane words so that all the articles can make some sense.
Today was my first day operating a tree shaker for about six hours. Previous to this, I have only personally harvested almonds using the method of 100 years ago–thwacking the tree branches with long poles so that ants, dust, leaves, and almonds came raining down. It’s a filthy job and not really much fun, but it’s the only means by which to harvest the nuts non-mechanically.