To Bee or Not to Bee |

To Bee or Not to Bee

What I like about the Flat Tops is that there aren’t a lot of rules. You don’t have to leash your dog (or leave him at home), you don’t have to sign a register, you don’t have to pay to use land that you supposedly already own. I understand why on so many public lands you’re required to leash your dog. Nobody wants Lassie running deer, which is any dog’s idea of an excellent adventure. But our 12-year-old cockerlabberweiler isn’t about to bring down Bambi or even catch a marmot. He generally doesn’t even see them. There are tons of free places where you can camp on the Flat Tops. They’re mostly just little pull offs on side roads. But there’s a new campsite feature that I don’t like too much. On our Flat Tops walk the other day, I said to Linda, “That looks like a cooler over there.” Well, it wasn’t a cooler, and there weren’t any beers in it. It was an exposed mini-latrine – right in the middle of an unoccupied campsite. I won’t describe it further, other than to say that I nearly became ill. This camp “improvement” was an inspired idea when somebody saw one in a forest products catalog at the office, I guess. But even though some people lack basic outdoor etiquette, the Forest Service folks maybe need to let go a little bit. Nothing you might step in out there could be more offensive than this.On the bright side, I’m surprised and pleased that you can still car camp somewhere without getting herded into an $18-a-night campground with showers and rules. Not long ago I found a piece of an Indian tool or maybe weapon at one of my honeybee yards up by Steamboat. Jack, who knows about such things, thinks it’s part of an “atlatl,” a sort of Indian spear. I wasn’t looking for this. I just looked down, and there it was, lying perfectly exposed on the ground. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was as if nothing else in the world existed. Moments like this connect you to another age.Two seconds later I spotted a convex silver button pounded out of a Liberty dime, which proves that lightning can strike twice. Anyhow, up on the Flat Tops I left Linda and Spot and wandered off the trail through meadows of low rabbit brush searching among the stones for a perfect arrowhead.Linda hears things I never do. Three or four times she pointed to jets passing overhead, and each time she said, “There are 300 people up there. Think of it. And how many planes flew over that we didn’t see?”I said, “You mean like those secret black UN planes?”She said, “They fly backwards. That’s why you can’t see them.”Linda’s quick. I’ll say that.She said, “Did you read about the Florida state troopers raiding those elderly black people’s homes and questioning them about voter registration? You know, somebody at the United Nations actually suggested bringing in international observers to monitor the election in Florida.””Who’d have ever guessed it would come to this?” I said. “In America.”Linda said, “There’s one of those little bumblebees with the red racing stripes.”I said, “One time I was working my honeybees just down the road from here. My hands were sticky with honey, and I felt this little tickle. A big black bumblebee was licking honey off the back of my wrist. I could see her quivering little tongue. I just kept working, and she stayed there for maybe five minutes before she moved onto my palm. Then I had to shake her off so I wouldn’t squash her.”When we came to an overlook, we could see Mt. Sopris and Capitol Peak beyond. Linda squeezed my hand. “This place is just perfect,” she said.New Castle beekeeper Ed Colby thinks it’s time to move those honeybees down off the Flat Tops. Ed’s e-mail: Castle beekeeper Ed Colby thinks it’s time to move those honeybees down off the Flat Tops. Ed’s e-mail:

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