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Always the cows

Tending bees in Florida is rarely without an audience of some sort...

...and it's typically of the critter variety...

In the Spring when it's to go home to Michigan, we all get a little antsy. So a few of us beekeepers will pool our resources to get the bees moved out of their Florida yards and onto the semi trucks to go home. In other words, this is the bi-annual time of year that I actually have to go help Beeman in the field.

What's daily ho-hum for him is a new (and usually unnerving) experience for me. For example, smoking hives with your back to a protective bull eyeing you from less than 50 feet away. On the same side of the fence. No, Beeman, it's totally NOT like riding a bike.

So yah, this yard is a bit intimidating. In order to get to the hives, we must first drive through two cow pastures - each with a stop to open and close the respective gates. Since I'm not driving, I'm designated gate operator; I ride on the back of the trailer and hope I don't bounce off as we clumsily navigate over the pasture's ruts and endless cow pies.

As I ride, a group of teenager cows begins plodding alongside me as we make our way across their turf to the bees. The first year I helped at this yard, the bull menacingly bellowed the entire time we loaded. Thankfully, he remained under his tree a short distance away.

This year, the teenagers just collected on a grassy mound about 20ft from our trucks and observed us with intense curiosity. To my delight, the only bull around was on the OTHER side of the fence, herding his ladies away from us, like we were an accident who didn’t need any more onlookers. Or maybe he didn’t want them getting stung. Or then again, maybe he was just being…..a bully.

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