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Honey Harvest, Part I

Honey Harvest, Part I

Naomi Jackson/September 2010

Super: a small hive box in which bees store honey
Frame: shaped like a picture frame; holds a rectangle of wax-coated plastic
Propolis: bee glue, made of plant resins

Choose a golden fall day, when the breeze is warm
and the sun is high, and the bees
are out gadding in the goldenrod.

Plan carefully, for you must move quickly
to dodge kamikaze warriors
left behind to guard the gold store.

Take two friends; three is better.
Don your armor: white suits with balky zippers,
rubber boots, jungle helmets, leather gloves.

Load your truck with hive tools, frame clamp, nails,
two empty supers with flat lids,
a smoker and a sticky-bristled bee brush.

 Remember to turn off the electric fence.

Fill the smoker with pine needles and paper.
Light the paper, squeeze the bellows, close the lid.
Gather your tools and approach the first hive.

With your hive tool, pry off the outer cover,
then the inner cover, and apply a layer of smoke.
Smoke alarms the nurse bees, who crawl inside.

Loosen a frame of honey from its propolis bonds.
Lift the frame, dripping bees and honey,
and gather round to inspect the stores.

If most of the cells are filled with honey and capped with wax,
brush off the bees and give the frame to the runner.
If not, replace the frame. It belongs to the bees.

The runner, dodging waist-high daisy fleabane and
loose fence wires, runs to the truck, brushes off
the last bees, slips the frame in a super, slams on the lid.

And repeat, through each super, through each hive,
lifting each frame, examining each cell
as warriors pelt your helmet and smoke fills your lungs.

When the last full frame is stored in the truck,
nail the lids on the supers that hold your harvest,
and turn back to say thank you to the bees.

Remember to turn on the electric fence.

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