Monday, April 09, 2007

Bee Country

We took a field trip on Saturday up to a bee farm, where they produce queen bees for sale. It's not really possible to raise queens in isolation, so there were lots of other kinds of bees buzzing around, too. Apparently they only work with the bees in the morning, so we had to leave the house at 6 to get there by 9. It was a long drive, but fortunately the traffic wasn't heavy, and the last hour and a half was through the kind of rural countryside that reminds me of the town where I grew up. In the back of my mind, though, I couldn't shake my concern about what the traffic would be like going back, since we had to go part of the way along the road between Sacramento and Vallejo, where I've had some horrendous traffic experiences in the last few years.

Those worries aside, the visit to the farm was great. We all got to wear bee suits, and Ziad and Maya spent most of the time captivated by drones that the workers let them hold. Apparently the drones are more placid than the worker bees, and are willing to just hang out on a gloved hand indefinitely. They're also larger and more interesting to look at. The technique the farmers use to grow thousands more queen bees than they would get in the normal course of beekeeping was interesting, but technical. One point in the process even involves incubating them, in adapted chicken incubators. The operation was large, with lots of specialized equipment that they had adapted themselves. This particular place even has created packaging that they sell to other bee farms. The farm itself was located close to the Sacramento River, in the middle of walnut orchards, with a few citrus trees thrown in for good measure. It was a wonderful visit.

For some reason, even though the traffic wasn't THAT bad, it took much longer getting back. We stopped in Walnut Creek at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum to check out the origami exhibit. There weren't a lot of pieces, but they were amazing. Interestingly, they appeared to be for sale, although the prices were stratospheric. I guess you could think you were paying for an expensive piece of paper, or you could think you were paying for untold hours of a Ph.D's creative efforts. In any case, we won't be buying any soon. Then, of course, Ziad and Maya had to hang out for the kestrel presentation, do the scavenger hunt, bug me to buy stuff from the museum .... I was starting to wonder whether I had the energy and focus to make it safely home.

I did, as it turns out, and looking back on it, I'm amazed that the two of them could handle seven hours in the car after much less sleep than they usually get, and behave so well overall. At the museum, I was the only who was starting to lose it when Maya teared up because we were started to leave before she could pet the rat. We went back, but I wasn't very nice about it, and in the car they had to hear about all the effort it took to make their lunch, drive so much, blah blah blah, and did anyone even say THANK YOU???? No, they just had to bug me to buy stuff, let them pet the rat, it's never enough for you people, blah blah blah. Even this they took with good grace.

Generally speaking, I'm not in favor of day trips to spots much more than 2 hrs drive away, but this was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. Despite the difficulty, I'm glad we went.


Post a Comment

<< Home