Monday, March 02, 2009

Apparently, the bees are the smart ones...

Saturday was my beekeeping class at BetterBee in Greenwich, NY.  We are going to try one hive this year, and see how it goes.  

My experience with the staff was my first clue...

Me: I am here to pick up my equipment order that I placed a month ago when I signed up for the class. 
(Note:  Actual Bees come in May, but you have to assemble equipment, paint it, put it in place and read A LOT before they get here...)
Staff: I'm sorry, the order is all in stock except one item, so we can't give you the kit.
Me: What is the backordered item?  Can I take the frames, etc. today and get started on assembly, since I am here with the truck?
Staff: The backordered item is the hive tool.
(Note: You need the hive tool for actually working the hive once the bees have arrived and are setting up shop. )
Me: Well, that's OK, I'll get that item when I come and pick up the bees.  Can I pay and take the rest of the order now?
Staff:  No, because I can't figure out how to make a notation on the computer that you have taken your items without the hive tool.
Me:  Can you print out my receipt and write a notation on there with your signature, verifying that all I need to receive is my hive tool?
Staff:  No.  But let me see what I can figure out; I think I can figure out a way to give you all the hive parts now, and then ship the protective clothing, smoker and hive tool when it arrives if you will pay the extra shipping.
I ponder the idiocy of this woman while she happily pounds away on her calculator, computer keyboard, and paperwork, and find myself standing next to a display of items in the company store, including a bunch of hive tools for sale as individual pieces.
Staff: Your total today will be $311. 08, and with an additional $18.00 shipping I can mail the protective clothing, smoker and hive tool when we have everything in stock.
Me: Why can you only give me half the order now, when only one small piece is missing?  And how did my total become $311.08 when the entire package is listed in your catalog for $259.00?
Staff:  Well, we actually do sell the hive parts and the other items as two separate packages in the catalog, so I can order it that way and "trick" the computer into printing out a receipt that shows you received your hive parts and still need to receive the other stuff.
Me: And the $311.08 total?
Staff:  Blank look, lots more pounding away on the calculator and keyboard.
Me: According to my math, the total with taxes should be $284.94.  I am not paying additional shipping, I will pick up the protective clothing, smoker and hive tool when I come in May to pick up the bees.
Staff:  (amazed) You're right!  
This whole mess has taken almost a half an hour already, I give up and leave the shop with my receipt, walking by the pile of hive pick up my ready-to-assemble hive.
I realize the pile of parts has no real resemblance to the kit picture in the catalog, but I am convinced I can follow the directions and assemble the hive...

Cat: You're kidding, right?  There are no instructions here!
Me: Shut up.  We can figure it out from the catalog and pictures.  First step, nail the big pieces together, then we worry about the small stuff.  What does the catalog say about nails?
If I follow the catalog text, I use 7d nails.  If I read the note, I DO NOT use 7d nails, I use 1-1/4" nails.  (But I can order both from the catalog!)  And, drat!  no hint about how many hive bodies the 1-1/4" nails will assemble...Do I dare turn to page 28 for information on frame nails, whatever those are?
Me: Is it me?  I am beginning to think bee stings may be the least of my worries...


Corinne R. said...

I will be interested to watch your progress on this project (if you ever get the proper parts :)). A bee hive is next on my wish list....but I think I will see how yours goes first!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Oh, I would be in SERIOUS grumble mode now!

Deborah said...

Wow! And fear of stings is what's stopped me so far! Good luck with that hive. I'm looking forward to updates.

Kara said...

That is on my hubby's wish list, along with a steer to raise for beef. I already gave in to the dairy goat and poultry idea...I guess it is just a matter of time. But I will hold out on the last two as long as possible. I will be interested to see how it goes for you. Taps are out and sap should run starting Thursday so we will stick to Maple Syrup for now.

Karin said...


clink said...

Yea -- I keep talking about hives. But I think your experience so far is going to keep me away from them!!!

They would be great for the flowers... (except the snapdragons .. they drop blossoms like crazy!)

But do you think my customers would get upset if they got stung???