It's kind of cute. It was marketed as an "English garden hive," as opposed to the workaday boxes one sees in commercial beeyards; it is somewhat smaller than a standard hive, with a peaked roof and copper flashing, and looks like something Peter Rabbit might have hopped past on his way to the carrot patch.
With this hive came an assortment of beekeeper gear: a hat-and-veil combo; gloves with arm gaiters; a smoker; a hive tool; an instructional DVD.
I, the Christmas elf who produced this hive and kit, had gently quizzed FT earlier in the year about her sincerity in taking up beekeeping. Are you sure? Are you sure this isn't like the dark-of-night, REM-sleep-fueled conversation you had with me several months ago when you suggested to me that an urban chicken coop might be a fun backyard project, and then the next day when I recalled that comment over breakfast you stared at me in horror: "I told you what?!..." No, FT insisted repeatedly; this isn't like the phantom egg farm; this is for real; I want to be a beekeeper.
Which is actually pretty exciting. Although we have to get cracking on ordering that most important element of the equation, namely the bees, a task that I understand needs to be done right about now for an April shipment, due to high demand and short supply. I'm anxious that this timeline is somehow going to conflict with FT's jaw surgery -- what if the bees come when she's recuperating, whacked out on painkillers and not ready to participate in the task of introducing the bees to their new digs in our back yard?
I want this to be FT's project, not mine; but I'm hoping she reconnects with our new friend Wally from a surburban apple orchard and bee yard on the outskirts of Bay City, a delightful older gentleman who, once he heard about FT's interest in bees, was ready to take her under his wing (so to speak) and share his expertise. Wally can give us the 411 about procuring our bees. I also bought FT a year's membership in the state beekeepers' association, so maybe we can find some encouragement and assistance a little closer to home as well.
So there's that, happening at our house right now.
In the meantime, we are becoming bees ourselves: do-bees at church, doing things -- generally things involving computers -- that other people can't or don't want to do. Today, for example, while I'm staying at home nursing a bad head cold, the somewhat well-er FT is at church, helping the Finance Committee switch its data over to a new computerized data management system. For my part, I'm entering data for the quarter into our online event and scheduling calendar. I sometimes feel guilty about dragging my non-Lutheran-from-home partner into the inner workings of our church; but she enjoys solving computer problems -- and, as a relative newcomer, she a certain amount of freedom to express herself and get things done that someone enmeshed in the complicated interpersonal relationships and histories of our congregation probably doesn't. One of our perpetual organizational problems is a reluctance on people's parts -- in part I think a function of our congregational demographics and local culture -- to own and execute final decisions; I remember a short-lived stint on the Evangelism Committee where a mind-numbing, hour-long handwringing session involving the purchase of customized church coffee mugs -- "I don't know what to do next...do you know what to do next?" -- was enough to make me hand in my resignation in frustration; "I am not going to waste any more hours of my life discussing how to get a picture on a coffee cup and calling that evangelism," I told the pastor. FT, by contrast, doesn't have a problem with just doing something that needs to be done, committee be jiggered, and explaining it later...in the words of another military gal, the late Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, it's easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.
I myself have made the commitment to volunteer in the church building one day a week. Our pastor is transitioning into a new house away from the parsonage, our longsuffering volunteer secretary is wanting and needing a break, and so a few of us are going to rotate days in the office, answering the phone and being available for any walk-in assistance. I have plenty of my own church-related tasks to keep me busy on my office day, so it gives me an opportunity to work on those without succumbing to the temptations of the home
All of which is to say...things are buzzing around here. In a good way.