A good thermometer is essential to my success. I found one on Amazon.com and the FedEx guy brought it earlier this week and I started testing it and started fretting. See, when you’re pulling a trailer stacked with a million bees across a thousand miles of highway it is useful to know the temperature in the middle of the bees. Too hot and the bees will start running, use up their syrup too fast, and struggle to ventilate their heat – too cold and the bees will fall into cold torpor, get bumped to the bottom of the package, get wet with syrup and probably die. Not only is a trailer full of a million bees an expensive loss, there are about sixty beekeepers back in Maine waiting expectantly for their new babies.
The trouble is the thermometer refused to work. We tested it with fresh batteries; we tested it on each of its three channels; we tested it close and we tested it across the yard. With each failed test my blood pressure rose. And it was time to leave for Kentucky; we were due in Clarkson by 7:00 am Saturday so my co-pilot Jim and I pushed off from South Portland Thursday in the early afternoon.
The first day’s travels don’t have much to tell. We put New England and New York behind us and made it as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I spent most of the afternoon fretting about my stupid thermometer.
In a perfect world, beekeepers in the northeast could buy bees from the northeast but in the world where we now live a majority of new honeybee hives are populated with package bees from the South. A vast majority of the country’s bees are kept in the South due mainly to the much longer growing season there. Bees, by the millions and primarily from migratory beehives, are shaken into 3 pound packages made of wood and screen. A can of sugar syrup and a caged queen are added to the package of about 10,000 bees and they are ready to travel to all parts of the country. The 100 packages we’ll be bringing up are originally from Georgia but we’re picking them up in Kentucky. I won’t bore you with the story why.
We stopped for the night and awoke Friday morning to yet another stunning summery day. After a hearty diner breakfast we found a Home Depot and bought another kind of remote thermometer.
The new thermometer passed an interior test and was strapped to the trailer for its exterior test. It passed beautifully. By late afternoon it was time to destroy the thermometer that had made my blood pressure rise.