The bees, and honey, are coming back

Yesterday, after two years of neglect that Stew blames on the Covid pandemic, political unrest in the U.S. and a misalignment of the stars, he and Gabriel, a local guy who’s helping us with garden chores while the regular gardener Ulises paints the two bathrooms, went to check our four beehives, sitting forlorn amid the weeds in one corner of the ranch.

Four beehives, two teeming with honey, two not.

To his surprise, Stew found two hives jampacked with honey, ready to be harvested; another with thousands of bees but no sign of honey, probably because it has no queen; and one more completely empty and abandoned.

So now he needs to dust off the hand-cranked centrifuge in our storage room, along with all the scrapers, funnels, trays and other apicultural paraphernalia, and the boxes of glass jars that have to cleaned and sterilized.

But before that, he needs to move some of the bees from the live hives to the one that’s empty, and order two new queens for that hive, and for the one with bees but no honey. The two queen bees will be shipped in tiny boxes from an apiculture supplier in Aguascalientes, and installed in their new quarters.

For that chore we may have to hire our former gardener Félix who unexpectedly showed up in town a month earlier than scheduled, following a one-year unofficial working tour of Texas.

Knock, knock, anyone there?

Stew says that at this point Félix probably knows more about beekeeping than he does.

In 2020, a banner year, Stew and Félix collected fifteen gallons of honey, more than enough for our own consumption; for Félix to sell $350 dollars worth in his village; and the rest for us to give or sell to our friends.

Félix visited the ranch with his family a few days ago, and apart from being a few kilos beefier and several shades darker, he didn’t seem any worse for wear. He arrived in the 2000 Nissan Frontier pickup we had given him several years ago, which he says still runs perfectly; in fact, he bought all new tires.

A sad aside is that in his first, and unsuccessful, attempt to go to the U.S. to work about eighteen months ago, Mexican cops in the state of Coahuila, along the U.S.-Mexico border, stopped the busload of migrants with Félix aboard, and stole all their money, including Felix’ earnings from selling honey.

Sometimes life for folks around us in rural Mexico seems like a cavalcade of misfortunes.

7 thoughts on “The bees, and honey, are coming back

  1. Barbara Lane

    Felix is back! I’ve thought about him so often since he left. I can’t imagine his life, the choices he thought he must make, the choices he did make.

    I’m happy you have bees and honey and Felix. And that he can assist though he must know he ruined his overall opportunity with you (which makes me so sad).

    I pray he and his family are well and prosper in whatever way they can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just talked to Felix and he’s very happy, deliriously so almost, to be back. One of his brothers has been in the States for over two years. I don’t know how these guys can stay so far from their families and for so long, but I guess if you need the money, you do what you need to do.


  2. When I was growing up, we kept bees. We had about 8-10 hives. One of them was very mean, and would attack us more aggressively than the others. It’s weird how one hive can have a different personality than another. But with enough smoke, even the aggressive hive was subdued. And we had TONS of honey while I was growing up. Sadly, I only like the very fresh, immediately-harvested honey. After it’s been sitting in a jar for a while, it loses its appeal for me.


    Kim G
    Roma Sur, CDMX
    Where one wonders if having a beehive on the roof would be feasible.


    1. Eight to ten hives? In Boston? That’s a lot of bees and honey. Stew reports that some hives have more aggressive bees than others, for reasons he doesn’t know. What did you do with all the honey? Pay for business school. Maybe you can set up a hive on the roof of your new house.


      1. I grew up south of San Francisco in a rural area. That would be a lot of hives for Boston. As for the honey, we didn’t harvest regularly, but we always had a lot of honey around the house. I think we gave some and sold some to friends and neighbors. A lot of the honey sat around the house and became not-so-nice, at least in my opinion, which I think was a minority view in the family. Cheers!


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