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To Bee or Not to Bee

A juxtaposition of events led to my being “contacted” by the New Castle police the other night.

It started with the crop duster. He called to say he’d be in Peach Valley any day now to spray the alfalfa. I customarily move my honeybees out of his range. This year I took the little darlings up Garfield Creek ” to safety, and a fresh allotment of dandelions.

I’d moved all the hives but one ” a colony that bounced back from American foulbrood disease last year. I wanted to segregate it from my healthy hives, and I decided to take my chances with the crop duster. I’d leave it in the backyard and hope for the best.



Then Butch called to say we had a bear on the ditch. Great. By day the bees would face toxic chemicals. By night, a bear.

That afternoon I noticed that the bees had discovered some stored honeycomb in the garage, which has no glass in the window. I’d have to fix the window.



I’d had enough. I said, “Linda, I’m taking this hive to Garfield Creek tonight and not worrying about it anymore. You’re coming with me.”

She claimed to be too busy stressing out over preparations for the upcoming Cabaret Night at the church.

I said, “Come on.”

“No way,” she said.

A while later she lost her billfold. When I found it, I said, “Now you owe me.”

She said, “OK, what?”

I said, “You have to go with me to take the bees.”

God fashioned no place on Earth lovelier than Garfield Creek at twilight. Linda held the flashlight as I carried the hive across the ditch and set it next to its sister colonies inside the solar electric bear fence.

On the way back I took it easy, as we savored the last lingering shards of celestial crimson. Linda instructed me to brake for Bambis and bunnies.

Linda always calms down in the truck. She stops muttering about George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. She folds her arms and sits there in a sort of altered state. You couldn’t imagine a more contented person.

Back in New Castle, I stopped at the convenience store for a quart of beer. At this place you have to prove your age, even if you’re an old beekeeper. I remarked at the absurdity of this to the girl behind the counter, but I couldn’t get a rise out of her. She solemnly said, “We check everybody” ” as if this were some provision of the Patriot Act.

Former New Castle mayor Pete Mattivi is pushing 100. I said, “You’d check Pete Mattivi?”

“We check everybody,” she said.

When I turned left onto Main Street, there wasn’t a headlight in sight. Linda said, “That’s a police car parked over there.” When its lights flashed behind me, I thought, “Now what?”

The officer informed me that he was “contacting” me because I had turned without signaling. He repeatedly called me “Sir” in a way that was genuinely polite and not at all condescending. I did not point out to him the absurdity of signaling at an empty intersection. I know when to shut up.

When he took my license and registration back to his car, I said to Linda, “He must be bored.”

Linda said, “Ed, he’s very polite.”

I suppose deep down I look at cops as authority figures with guns and sometimes a mean streak. Linda sees them as the guardians of civilization. This is evident in the way we talk. I always call them “cops.” To Linda they’re “police officers.”

After cautioning me to signal next time, the officer gave me his personal card, “so you’ll know who contacted you.”

As I started to turn back onto the street, Linda said, “You’d better put on your turn signal.”

Ed Colby’s column appears biweekly on Sundays.

Ed’s e-mail: esc@sopris.net.


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