“Ask an Apiarist,” by Rob McClure Smith

Apr 23rd, 2014 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Friends:

I wish to personally apologize for all that went wrong with our first beekeeping workshop last Saturday at Chauncey Farm.

I admit to some disorganization and poor use of time, such as discussing honeybee maladies at length when more than half the audience did not yet have bees of their own, or for that matter know anything at all about bees.  A shorter and less detailed mention of the two nosema varieties (n. apis and n. ceranae) would have been sufficient for such a brief workshop as would considerably less information about Merops apiaster (the bee-eater bird) as many of you have noted in your letters and complaints and legal representations and so forth.  I further acknowledge that I do have a digressive tendency although hardly the ‘anthophiliac pedant,’ ‘free-associating cretin’ or ‘killer-beekeeper’ described in recent unsigned missives and threats.  I do remain nonplussed by how many attendees did not know that bees are a monophyletic lineage of the superfamily Apoidea, or that they are found everywhere except Antarctica (where temperatures can reach a minimum of between −80 °C and −90 °C in the interior ice-shelves).

I further apologize for having not practiced powder sugar mite count recently, causing that demonstration to go also extremely poorly June 15.

Most of all I deeply regret every single bee sting, and am especially sorry for the multiple stings so many of you somehow managed to acquire.  As you know, I intended to demonstrate what a brood comb looked like in a queenless hive with a laying worker versus that from a queenless hive in the process of creating a new queen.  In retrospect, I should perhaps have foreseen how this might evolve into a volatile situation requiring protective clothing, especially after what happened last year.

In any case, please accept my heartfelt apology for any pain and suffering experienced during and afterwards. Most times no one has an allergic reaction beyond a local inflammation that I have experienced myself many times without any histrionics whatsoever (albeit I have higher levels of antibodies [mainly IgC] reacting to the antigen of bee venom, phospholipase A2).  Regardless, Erin J did most certainly erupt in gargantuan pustules during Sal W’s distressing breath cessation episode.  Both I and my attorneys wish to acknowledge that it was inexcusable and unintentional for me to have subjected you all to this trauma, and again I can only ask for your understanding.  Smoking a beehive is not an exact science, as my colleague the late Phil Yardley would tell you.

Thankfully, the only serious injury sustained was by the elderly lady who became somewhat trampled in the fracas by the chicken-house.  You will be pleased to know that Chauncey Farm has begun a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to replace Mrs. Goldberg’s shattered walker and since everyone I feel bears some responsibility for the pandemonium, please contribute what you can. This is an opportune moment also to mention that stings retained in clothing fabric continue to pump out an alarm pheromone that attracts aggressive action and further stinging attacks.  Contrary to claims that “your goddamn bees have followed me home” these are in fact most probably different bees, likely local mason bees (Osmia lignaria), responding to a failure to practice basic post bee-attack hygiene.

I would also like to reassure those of you who fled the workshop that rumors regarding the drowning of Jill E in Abel’s Pond are just that.  While admittedly fully immersing herself in the course of evading an encroaching swarm of enraged Halictidae, Jill I am sure will confirm for you all after her discharge from St. Mary’s that she is an excellent swimmer.  It is however true that the longstanding sewage run-off issue from the Spoon River into Abel’s Pond could have been addressed more precipitously by the owner.

I am happy to inform you that, besides the one unfortunate incident with our pig and Mrs. Helgerson, structural damage to the farm is minimal.  While one errant driver, apparently discomfited by a Trigona minima in his Camry, did sideswipe a wheelbarrow and thereafter impact our main fertilizer storage facility, negotiations with insurance reveal damage to the equipment and manure pile exceed costs for the dents and replacement windscreen.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss these events further. If you (still) choose to attend a future session, please keep in mind our July workshop is the open agenda ‘Ask An Apiarist’ session where I plan to address queries about colony collapse disorder.  I am also hoping to bring along some interesting audiovisual aids including the bee colony’s natural predator, the skunk.

Contritely yours,

Alan Chauncey


Defenestration-Dapper GentlemanRob McClure Smith has been published in many literary magazines in the United States and in Europe, including two pieces before in Defenestration, one in 2005 about a fake miniature golf course and something equally stupid  in 2007 about a Celtic romance novel…

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