Bee Careful What You Wish For

Bee Careful What You Wish For

Hey Team,

I just did something that falls firmly into the amazing category. I beekept! (Beekeeped? I think I’m making up words again.) It was a little creepy…but a lot awesome.

The dad of one of the guys I met at the ten-year reunion in Illinois keeps bees as a hobby. So I was just over at his place plundering the Hymenoptera palace. It was quite the experience, in more ways than one.

After getting suited up in some hardcore beekeeping garb I was handed a smoking can with a billows attached, a paintbrush and a pry bar…that’s when I started to think maybe I was just getting screwed with. But without a trace of a smile on his face Tom (in his own beekeeping paraphernalia) started walking me down the hill toward a ring of white boxes.

Hard core

Now what?

“This one right here should do,” Tom pointed with his gloved hand. “Just blow some smoke in the hole”

Smoke in the hole

I THOUGHT, “That’s what she said!” But what I SAID was more like, “Okay.”

Apparently the smoke (from the can with the billows) makes the bees think there is a fire and they shift from “protect the hive” mode to “get the hell out” mode. And according to Tom, bees only sting when they are protecting a hive…so I was all for promoting “get the hell out” mode.

I started to carefully take the lid off the hive. Then Tom said, “Be careful not to crush a bee. It sends out a scent signal that really pisses them off.” Then I started to VERY CAREFULLY take the lid off the hive.

It's open!

Despite my continued success at making myself look like a sissy via this site, I’ve never been afraid of bees and have never felt the need to run from any…but having them swarming all around you and your holey jeans and short socks can be a little unnerving.

I carefully lifted one of the frames out of the hive, still petrified I’d accidentally crush a bee, get chased to the nearest pond and be forced to breathe through a reed, Donald Duck style, until the angry swarm left me alone. Another quick dose of magic “get the hell out” vapor made me feel a little better. And then I literally had to brush the bees off the frame with a hand broom. That was easily the weirdest part. A piece of me felt bad for knocking the bees to the ground, but there was another piece of me that was kind of worried about how they would take being knocked to the ground.

Bee sweeping

Once the frame was clear of bees the tough part was over and we hauled the honeycomb back up the hill to change out of our fancy clothes and slip into something a little more comfortable. All that was left was to scoop out some honey and enjoy the sweet taste of success.

Scooping the comb

Just a taste

#33’s a goner! And…

I’m done.


I donated the honey I collected to my couch surfing hosts in Chicago. It made me feel good about myself. Want to feel good about yourself?

Don’t let me stop you.

10 Replies to “Bee Careful What You Wish For”

  1. Ah yes, the order Hymenoptera, easily distinguished by their membraneous wings and small “waists”. I bet the bees switched right back to “kick Brett’s ass” mode after they figured out you “waisted” their precious honey. OH! TWO POINTS!

  2. Oh, point of interest. The Bronx Zoo will NOT let you pet their sloth, but I’m trying buddy, I’m trying…

  3. Keep up the good work george! I like where your head’s at…in reference to puns and sloth hunting not the unseemly pictures I may or may not have in my possession.

    And since we’re talking about pictures. Credit goes to Shawn Kendall, Social Sciences teacher extraordinaire and all around good guy, for the beekeeping photos.

    Thanks guys!

  4. …No, he wouldn’t climb a tree, if a Brett flew like a bee. But he wouldn’t be a bear then, and so i guess he wouldn’t care then (doo doo doo doo dum dum)
    Oh, bears love honey and Brett’s a pooh bear, so he does care, so he’ll climb there. Brett loves honey and he’s got brown hair, time for something sweet.

    Hmmmm. Somehow honey reminds me of the winnie-the-pooh song. Don’t get your snout stuck in a honey pot, or you may float down a river on a log over a waterfall. true story.

  5. The camera man, who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, would like to thank you for not crushing a bee and inciting a flurry of unfriendliness. It was a good time watching you get to put another notch in the belt of the Amtrekker.

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