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To Bee or Not to Bee

Linda has this recurring dream about us Dumpster diving to make ends meet in our old age, which is not so far down the road.

Linda and I aren’t insider traders, so let’s not talk about the stock market. The other day we decided to look for a rental property that might augment our income someday when I can’t lift a honey super, and we’re reduced to watered-down Social Security and a battered shopping cart.

The realtor said to Linda, “Oh, and what does your husband do?”



Linda said, “He ski patrols and keeps bees.”

The realtor said, “You know, I used to work with bees. I always found moving bees fascinating. You just put the hives on the truck, and the bees swarm and follow along right behind!”



OK. Conversation is an art. Maybe I exaggerate a little sometimes, too. Maybe we all do.

Veteran Aspen Times columnist Su Lum once publicly questioned my hauling bees to Aspen to feast on lush May dandelions growing on America’s priciest real estate. She was actually pretty cute about it. But bees in Aspen? What the heck did I think I was doing, anyway? She acted amazed at my audacity. What seemed to intrigue her most was how I transported my bees up there in the first place. Did I lead them to greener pastures “like the Pied Piper?”

Here’s how it works: You load the hives onto a truck when the bees are all at home, say, at night, or on a stormy day. Then you drive to their new location and unload the little darlings. You can close off the hive entrance/exits in transit, but if you travel in cool weather or at night, you really don’t have to.

People find this astonishing. You load a few million bees onto the back of a truck, and you head on down the highway.

One December some years back, Little Nic helped me move a pickup load of bees from Crystal Springs back home to Peach Valley. It was some job in the snow. When we bypassed Glenwood Springs, I stopped at a stop sign, right behind another vehicle. When the car ahead of me started up again, I followed, but without stopping again directly in front of the sign. Right away I saw flashing lights in my rearview mirror.

When the cop got out of his car, I noticed that he looked like a nice young man. I said, “Nic, watch this.” As the officer approached the truck, I leaned out and said, “Good evening, officer. You’re not allergic to bees, are you?”

The cop literally jumped back when I said this. Regaining his composure, he came up to my window.

“What do you mean, ‘bees’?” he said.

I said, “I’ve got a load of ’em in back, and they might be a little stirred up, even though it is the dead of winter. You just never know,” I said.

“Whose bees are they, and where are you going with them?” he said.

I said, “They’re mine. I’m taking them home to my place in Peach Valley. Is there a problem, Sir?”

The cop sized up the situation, and there wasn’t a lot he could say about the bees. Plus, I can turn on the charm when I need to. I apologized for my poor driving. I’m a courteous detainee whenever I get pulled over. I received a stop sign warning, and I thanked the young man for it.

Little Nic chuckled all the way to Peach Valley.

Peach Valley beekeeper and ski patroller Ed Colby writes bi-weekly on Sundays for the Post Independent. He promises a column on Social Security if he can ever figure out how it works. Ed’s e-mail: esc@ sopris.net.


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