A Hard Day Harvesting Honey
Just got back into the city last night from a hard day harvesting honey with my Dad and my older brother Pete. Its tricky taking pictures around Peter, you have to be quick, quiet and surreptitious. He always notices of course, and issues threats on-par with his mood at that particular time.
On Friday Peter was not in a very good mood. We had all kinds of problems not the least of which was the cold morning start and the crawly bees that find their way into your clothes.
Next the bee blower broke, right in the middle of a job, out in one of the southern beeyards, farthest away from the honey house. And Peter didn’t have the right wrench.
So we came all the way back and unloaded the honey and fixed the bee blower and went out again. That when we had some real excitement. In one particular beeyard we call ‘the highway yard’, we were working away, each in our own worlds, separated by the roar of the bee-blower. I looked up at one point when I noticed a small fire had started in the bushes under a pine tree. The fire was no doubt caused by some errant sparks from a bee smoker that had set some tinder ablaze at the edge of the yard. And suddenly the fire was huge! I must confess I panicked and really didn’t know what to do. I was thinking we needed a wet blanket and so I was looking around for one! Haha yeah, then i furiously attacked the burning branches and was of absolutely no use. Dad stood back and said ‘Oh its no use, there’s no stopping it now.’ But I’m forgetting the moment where I called for Peter who was on the truck, just setting down a full honey super into the stack. He turned around quick because he could hear the urgency in my voice (I probably screamed like a girl), and the look on his face was absolutely priceless. His eyes went as wide as saucers as he took in the scene and then he ran over faster than I’ve ever seen him move before!
The fire quickly moved through the dead grass and was consuming the dead branches at the bottom of the tree, before it climbed to a low hanging branch and the went right up the tree! It was burning the dead pine needles in a most terrifying, snapping, smoky spectacle. As you can see in the picture below the blaze went right to the top of the tree! And its truly a miracle nobody driving on the highway below the yard called the fire dept, such was the tower of flame and smoke we had created. But Peter did the absolute smartest thing by wading right into the center of the blaze and pulling away the dead material at the bottom of the tree and then using his big boots to dredge up the sand and kick the fire out. He kicked and kicked and sanded the fire into submission.
Once the blaze at the bottom was subdued, the branches went out too, except for a dead branch here and there that continued to burn as you can see in this picture. Oh it was an exciting chapter in the 2014 honey harvest. I ran to the truck and snapped this picture at the tail end of the excitement. After the fifteen minute distraction we returned to harvesting honey, keeping an eye on the extinguished fire pit and the still smoldering branches. Once we finished collecting all the supers in the yard we returned to survey the scene. Convinced the fire was permanently extinguished, we left the area but Peter admitted that he wouldn’t have minded if the tree had burnt to the ground as it shades the beeyard in the morning. Just a little story of life on the farm…