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Slinging a Hive Tool

Slinging a Hive Tool

Beekeepers have a saying. “Think I feel like slinging a hive tool.” Working a colony requires three essential tools. In order of importance they are the smoker, the hive tool designed to separate both supers and comb, and a veil for the face. Whatever might be missing in the truck, absence of smoker and fuel, in my case pine straw, is determining. They say a puff of smoke disorients honey bees. They say the smoke drives bees down into their comb where they gorge themselves on nectar. They say the smell of smoke signals to a bee a forest fire is approaching fast, and it is time to feed in order to abscond. I don’t know. It is just what they say. I do know that smoke on a bee confuses her exquisite sense of smell and allows my intrusions into her scent-organized home.

“Think I feel like slinging a hive tool.” Now there is a statement with set-up, qualifier, and action. Think I feel: a set-up in which a degree of nuance plays. I mean where exactly is the qualifier? How does thinking shape the feeling? To what end does feeling actively shape a thought? Then there is this. The only time I have seen a beekeeper actually sling a hive tool, just throw it in the air, was when a girlie’s stinger-cocktail of acetates and alcohols entered a nerve perfectly and the exquisite pain left the man no chance for the out-of-body experience he most wanted right then.

Oh, I do wish sometimes
Beckett and his kind,
a real Congress of body snatchers,
would read to me, unveiled,
in a beeyard in August
when no nectar flow
makes the older girlies
cranky, irritable.

“Think I feel like slinging a hive tool.” Today I had options. Last night there were no options. Today I could have spent the time at a Holiday Inn with beekeepers from across the state who are like bishops in synod, only less worldly, less ambitious. The food would have been catered and free. The confraternity instinctive, as unquestioned as religion must be in order to be, the seats comfortable, the inside air conditioned. But this morning I woke up needing to sling a hive tool. Which is what beekeepers say when what they need are all of those colonies in constellation, each colony self-centering, since, gravitational.

In a yard I never know how my body will respond. Some days, some months, my hands are steady when breaking the propolis that seals super to super, and comb to comb. Some days the hands tremble. Some days when looking for colony’s queen, to pick her up, to clip a wing and paint her thorax, the hands are surgically steady. Some days my fingers have the tremors of a drunk. I never know before hand which it will be. Today they were steady and slow and sure, maybe wanting to expiate the intrusive way all beekeepers have in so intrusive an art of husbandry.

Beekeepers like to give their yards names. Usually determined by a landmark. Catchpen, oilfield, shooting range. Today I worked a yard in sight of the Mississippi’s levee. It is on property that still belongs to an old plantation and close to where Hollywood movie scenes sometimes get shot. The yard’s name I’ll keep to myself. Last night’s tremors I’ll keep to myself. But a beekeeper’s sense of a beeyard’s patterning organizations, solitary sense and entrancement, I’ll pass along. I finally get it.

“Think I feel like slinging a hive tool.”


Last edited by Terreson, Jul/19/2021, 10:19 pm
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