The Baptism and the Bees

I have two things to write about, and they are both different. I’ll do them in the order they appeared today.

Mike and I arrived home from church this morning and saw a car parked near our entry gate. It was my cousin,Terri, and she told me her brother-in-law, Pastor Sammy, was going to baptize someone in the river in front of the house and asked if I wanted to come. I did. I always do. It is very common to baptize in the slow moving North Fork here in Mendota.

My sister Pat and I used to play in the very spot where this morning’s baptism took place. We took turns playing John the Baptist and baptizing each other. No sprinkling for Pat and me–we believed in full, repeated immersion!

In case you’ve never attended a  river baptism, here’s how it works…

There is a sense of waiting. It’s a reverent occasion. We stand there listening to the sound of the leaves. The river is flowing quietly. This is followed by singing. Sammy leads the small group in singing Amazing Grace. The voices are naked and beautiful.  I love it.

There is a prayer. Since I attend church elsewhere, I do not know the young man being baptized, but I learn that his name is Caleb  and he made his commitment to Christ during Vacation Bible School.

They are in the water now, and I can tell it’s cold. Someone whispers…”I hope Gordon and Sammy remembered to remove their wallets.” This is followed by a nervous giggle and then quiet.



It was over soon. It was time to get this young man home into dry clothes.

I walked up the hill following the baptism.  I’m glad I live where we still baptize in a river.   I started thinking about my week ahead.

One of the things I started thinking about was our honeybees as today is the day I will start feeding two of the beehives.

Beekeepers have so many different instructions. One beekeeper says do it this way, and another says do it a different way. Some feed the bees and some do not. We have two hives that appear to be weak and to help ensure that they have an adequate supply of honey for the winter, I’ll be feeding them for the next 45 days.

Here I am…getting suited up to go put the feeding apparatus on the hives and to start them on their beloved sugar water.  They love this stuff. I have to take my shoes off to get them through the bee suit.   Check out those nasty shoes.

When the hive is new, we add a vitamin supplement called “Honey Bee Healthy,” but today I’m giving them only sugar water. Five pounds of sugar will make up four quarts of sugar water. It’s not cheap.

Each day I’ll zip up to the apiary on the golf cart and feed these little guys and girls. I don’t mind this feeding system because the swap of the empty jar of sugar water for the full jar is easy and I don’t kill any bees.

They will get used to me after about a week and won’t take much notice when I’m around.   Our previous system held more sugar water but was very harsh on the bees. I dreaded feeding them, and they chased me out.  I had to be fully suited up to feed them.   I’m glad we’re returning to the old feeding system.

Once I’m comfortable, I will not wear the entire bee suit.  I might wear the veil and gloves, but unless they appear aggressive, I won’t feel the need to suit up.

Last year, I think I got overly comfortable because I was feeding them in my shorty pajamas…not veil, no gloves, no covering on my arms and legs.  I think that might have been a little risky.  I won’t do it again.

It comforts me to know that the bees have plenty to eat…they forage in a two-mile radius. This yellow flower is everywhere in Mendota right now. It’s around the apiary, and I could hear it buzzing as I walked by. The bees were foraging. Is this goldenrod? I don’t know!

I imagine them flying up Clinch Mountain, over the North Fork for a sip of water and into my neighbors flowers, trees and vegetable gardens. There is a cultural move to stay away from pesticides here in the valley. I’m glad.

This past winter we had a bit of a crisis. It was a mild winter, there was too much room in the hives, and they did not cluster properly, and we lost a lot of bees. I was in Georgia and I got an email from Mike saying that Gerald had looked in the hives and while there was honey, many of the bees had died. I was sick. Gerald was sick. We were all depressed.

Learning from this, we removed the top supers last week. This leaves the hive more crowded..they must keep the queen at about 85 degrees year round, and the closeness will facilitate proper clustering.

I’m glad we have the bees.




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