I’m not sure why the women who work behind the bullet-proof glass at the Eureka Police Department are always so grouchy. Is it a job requirement? Do they hate humanity? I don’t know, but a couple of weeks ago when I picked up my application to keep bees in the city, the woman barely grunted as she handed me the paperwork.
Today, as I turned in my application with an excited flourish, she looked at me like I was something disgusting she had found underneath her chair. “Twenty-five dollars.” I handed her the money and grinned. Bees! Who wouldn’t be thrilled about bees? Her, that’s who. She handed me my receipt and turned away.
This is the first step in being able to keep bees within the city limits. Our neighbors will receive notice, and they’ll have 30 days to object. The Animal Control officer will inspect the premises to make sure they’re far enough away from everyone and that I’ll be maintaining best beekeeping practices.
In the early 1970s, my grandmother kept bees. I remember jars of dripping honeycomb all over her kitchen. I remember her handing my brother and me a piece of the comb, and we would chew on the sweet wax as we played outside in the orchard. A few times I got to go with her as she smoked the bees and collected the honeycomb. I wasn’t quiet or calm enough and always ended up getting stung.
Now it’s me who will be doing the smoking, the soothing of the girls and the collecting of the honeycomb. There are some days when I miss my grandmother so much I can hardly stand it. There are other days when I think I’m trying to become her. Today, as I made my beekeeping plans public and told the grump behind the glass to have a nice day, it was a little bit of both.