Sex Advice from a Beekeeper

sexadvice I’m so excited. For the second time in several days, I’m a published writer. The first outing was my guide “How to Build an SMS Service“, published by O’Reilly. Perhaps more interesting, and certainly more relevant, I present’s Sex Advice from a Beekeeper. That’s me! Heh.

Oh, and this blog, too, I guess. That’s writing, aint it?

PS If you’re new to the blog from Nerve, feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed. It’s usually fun. For example, here are some “best of Hive Mind Bee Blog” posts.

Wedding Cake

Checked in on the girls this evening, and was particularly interested in the results of my bee sculpture experiment thus far. They haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped, but, as you can see, they have made some progress.

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Now, you may be wondering, what’s the point of all this? What does it mean? Why am I sticking wedding cake black bride and groom dolls into a bee hive? Is it a statement on matrimony? Race? Should be bees be seen as a symbol of fecund nature, or dangerous deliverers of venom? Is the wax a sweet taste of honey, or is entombing them?

Yah, me too.

I thought this was coo, though: when I put the dolls into the hive, I had to leave a frame out to make room. Check out the picture below. They built a bunch of burr comb down into the cavity that I left (but apparently built around the dolls, because they weren’t attached to the burr comb).

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Otherwise good progress in the hive. Hive 2 had just about finished filling the second honey super I had put on, so I added a third. Below are some pictures of their progress.

Hive 1 seems to be suffering from the chilling shade of the my neighbor’s laurel. They’re barely making it through their first honey super, and haven’t capped any of the frames. I talked to Jennie about getting her laurel cut back, which should help. She said she’d tried to do it a while back but got scared off by the bees. Makes sense. I put her in touch with a arborist and offered him my bee suit.

The shot below is from Hive 1. You can see lots of honey going in, but none of it capped.

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Smell Me, I’m Healthy

Brady sent me this fantabulous article from We-Make-Money-Not-Art. Check out the picture to the right and tell me what you think it is.

Did you answer “bee bong”? I know, that’s what I thought, too, but it’s not.

No, this is actually part of a project by Susana Soares of the Royal College of the Arts in England, and it’s a contraption she’s rigged to use bees to help detect explosives, pregnancy and diseases like lung cancer, tuberculosis, and mesothelioma by smell (OK, I’m not sure that it really detects mesothelioma, but mesothelioma is a huge, huge pay-off of on Google Adwords, so if you see a mesothelioma link in the Google Ads on this blog, go ahead and click it, because I’m pretty sure I’ll get big bucks from some law firm looking to make money off of class action law suits).

Sorry, that was kind of a long parenthetical. Where was I?

Anyway, so you may remember my post back in 2005 about how bees can be trained to recognize human faces. Susana uses classical conditioning of bees as well, except with smell: teach the bees to associate food with the a pregnant woman’s breath or a mesotheliomiac’s breath, then put them in one of these contraptions and have someone breath into it. If the person is pregnant or has mesotheliomia, the bees will go right to the chamber the breath is entering through. If not, they won’t.

Amazing. Read the whole article. It’s wack

The Seed is Planted

Finished the first stage of the beeswax sculpture project. Last night, I put a few of the wax-coated oddments into the hives. Now, it’s up to the bees to entomb them in wax and create, dare I say it? Art!

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Bee Sculpture

A friend of Leo’s has a sweet project going: he’s submerged a bicycle in ocean water at the end of a pier. His plan is to leave it there until barnacles build up, haul it out, scrape it and replace key parts to end up with a barnacle bike. I’m pretty sure he’s going to shred his thighs, but as someone who regularly plays with bees, I shouldn’t look askance at those who court disaster.

The project reminded me of an attempt I made at wax-based bee sculpture a few years back. I tried putting various objects in the hives to see if they’d build wax around them, entombing the key and vase and such that gave them. It was a failure, however. They built spaces around the objects, but not on the objects themselves. 

My theory is that they avoided the objects because they didn’t like the materials: metal, ceramic, etc. They’d prefer to build off of wood, wax.

I decided to test the theory and take a fresh swing at the project this week. Sunday, I stopped off at Archie McPhee’s, home of the bacon toothpick, and picked up a variety of oddments that seemed like they’d be interested entombed in beeswax: a fake nutria skull, bride and groom, glow in the dark skull, small vials and ampoules, miniature doctor and handyman and a googly eyeball.

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Tonight, in between games of chess with Marcus, I melted down some beeswax (some of it culled from the hives, some of it from pressed sheets I had on hand to repair old frames). Beeswax needs to be melted carefully: it doesn’t boil, but it will burn if heated too high, and then it’s a hotter than a chip fire. The best strategy is to use a double boiler and melt it slow: it has a low melting point (146 Fahrenheit), so it doesn’t take much. It’s also key to avoid contact with water (otherwise you risk saponification, and no, I didn’t know what that meant until I looked it up, either) and to melt in glass, tin or steel (copper and aluminum will discolor it).

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After I had it melted, I dipped each of the objects in the molten wax. My theory is that by coating it in wax, the bees will take to it and build off it in a way they wouldn’t if it had been the naked the materials.I

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I’ll crack the hives tomorrow after work and let the little Goldsworthy’s do their best. I’ll keep you posted.

The Girl Who Swallowed Bees

Pmatt sent me a link to this short showing tomorrow night at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF):


The Girl Who Swallowed Bees
Australia, 2007, 9 Minute Running Time
North American Premiere
Genre: Animation

A young teenage girl feels so distraught that she even swallows bees in an attempt to end her life. But instead, from this moment on she sees her life in a lustrous, honey-golden light …

Here’s the full details. Anyone seen it? Worth checking out?