Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bees Near Merklín

My parents are on their way home now, so I anticipate that they're getting even tireder while I'm taking a short rest. But then, I did all the driving and spoke Czech at great length nearly every day while they were here. We agreed that overall the trip had been a good idea, despite its tiring aspects.
I believe it is appropriate to note that we were much taken with a joke related to us by friends in Kutná Hora. The father of the family, now long dead but fondly remembered by all of us as a man of very dry wit, used to insist upon accompanying guests out to the car or other means of transport. While this is a courtesy often practiced in both the Czech Republic and the US, his remark about it was that you had to make sure the guests were really gone (especially relatives). Therefore, I was careful not just to drive my parents to the airport, but to go in and make sure that they got safely checked in and over to the passport control area. If they are not now gone from the airport and somewhere over the Atlantic by now, there is not much I can do about it. But since there has been no distress call from the other side of the passport control booths, I think it is safe to say that they will be in the US tonight, and will probably soon reach my sibling's lair as planned. My guests are safely gone.
It does not appear that I took all that many pictures during our wanderings, presumably because my mother was taking her share and I felt absolved of the need to record everything. However, I did take some in a garden near Merklín (the Merklín near Přeštice, not the other one). This garden belongs to a family whose activities include beekeeping. Since my family used to keep bees as well, we could not miss out on seeing the Czech beehives.

My family had, at maximum activity, about five hives. They were white in color and sat down near the road amidst the trees. These five or so hives produced enough honey for us to eat, sell, and give as presents, and my mother assures me that we have not yet run out of honey from those hives. We were astonished, then, to see that there were about fifty hives in this garden, which are tended by about three people. We liked the multicolored hives.

Of course, it is not enough just to look at the beehives, attractive though they may be. The honey also has to be sampled and the bees themselves admired.

First the bees have to be lulled with smoke. Otherwise they become upset when the hive is opened and the frames removed.
Once the smoke has settled them down, the bees sit on the frames in a relatively placid manner. It has been many years since I was involved in the honey-removal process, so I have forgotten most of the details, but in this case we simply scraped away some of the wax and scooped up some of the honey to eat. As it is early in the season, the honey was light and of a very subtle flavor. Later, as more trees and woodland fruits flower, the honey will be darker and stronger.
While at the garden, we saw quite a number of different things, including the centrifuge used for the honey, the remains of a small brick factory, and some mallard ducks. However, I did not photograph most of these things.
I did, to be sure, photograph a wary barn cat for the benefit of Kristen and other cat fanciers. We were much amused at the sight of green eyes in the dark under the barn door, and the gradual emergence of a small head.
Eventually the entire cat appeared, but it did not really want anything to do with us.

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Blogger Kristen said...

Oh kitty!!! Thank you. I'm looking forward to getting back to my girls.

I can't believe your beekeeper isn't even wearing a beekeeper's hat! Yikes!

May 11, 2007 4:40 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I daresay he uses the full outfit when doing normal beekeeping tasks rather than just pulling out one frame to show guests.

May 11, 2007 12:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

According to the X-Files movie, bees have been infected with an alien virus to destroy mankind... I like the kitty though!

May 12, 2007 4:40 AM  

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