4.24.2011

What's That Buzzing Sound?

With no kids, no jobs, no pets, no mortgage, and a sucky economy, the natural thing to do is start a rooftop garden and get bees, right? Especially since we live in a third floor apartment building that we don't own, and in the outer Richmond district where it's foggy all the time.

Okay, not all the time. On a good day, the fog burns off at 1:30 pm and if it's not raining - meaning not summer - we get glorious sixty degree sun until the fog blows in like steaming tea kettle no later than 3:30 pm.

First, the garden boxes. Anybody can find a container, throw some dirt in it and grow something, even kids. My kids grew beans from seeds they planted in old cans. They grew rapidly, just like in Jack and the Beanstalk, the book they were probably tying into this little nature experiment. Unlike Jack's beanstalk, my kids' plants grew spindly and ugly, and the kids forgot about them after a week. When they weren't looking, I threw them out and they never once asked where they went.

Charlie likes using his tools, so he built three big boxes and somehow lugged them up to the roof. Somehow he managed to get big sacks of soil up there, too, while pulling a muscle in his back. When he could stand upright, he planted lettuce and strawberries: seedlings instead of seeds since we need more immediate gratification than kids.

Why lettuce and strawberries? What are the two things you don't mind having in excess? Not carrots: if you eat too many, your nose turns orange. And anything taller, like corn, wouldn't survive the gusty ocean wind.

Now for the bees. We ordered two packages of bees, thinking one would be good since we don't know what we're doing, but two would be even better.

Two-is-better is the same philosophy I have with cookies, too. It works perfectly, up until my pants get tight. Then it works to give me motivation to increase my running mileage. If I had any discipline, I'd be so freakin' lazy.

The bees have their own busy schedule and you can't get them until they're good and ready. They waited until the next available holiday to be ready: Easter. That means we don't go to my sister's house and she tells my dad, the owner of our apartment, the specific reason why we're not coming.

She didn't have to be so honest, but that's my sister. I could have confronted her but the good thing is now my dad knows. The other good thing is that my sister told him. I wouldn't want him stumbling up there lifting the hive lid wondering what was going on in the boxes, but I sure wasn't going to tell him. He doesn't have pets, he pays someone to mow his lawn, and in order to be the property manager for this apartment, he made us give away our dog. I don't think he's the type, like Charlie, to call bees "cute."

So this morning, Easter Sunday, while other people celebrate joy and new life in their church, we drove home with six pounds of bees in the back seat of the car to celebrate joy and new life on our roof.

Charlie sneaked the bees up through the service stairs when nobody was looking and set them up. He's the one who spent hours every day looking at YouTube videos and, at bee association meetings, took notes instead of seconds and thirds at the cookie table, to figure out how to do it. He didn't use gloves (don't ask me why), he didn't get stung and the girls are buzzing around up there, adjusting to their new home.

Charlie hasn't been down from the roof in hours. He has had a hard time since we gave away our dog, so he could be excited to have pets again. Or he could be excited to have something to do besides listening to me complaining about my pants getting tight.