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Keeping beehives, which can be scary sometimes

Kidsday reporter Mary Shepherd of Shelter Island in

Kidsday reporter Mary Shepherd of Shelter Island in her beekeeper outfit. Credit: Shepherd family

Some people would look at a bee and run away or “bee” scared. But, for a living, and sometimes for fun, my Mom and I catch swarms of bees and then keep them in our driveway. So far we have about 28 beehives. We can’t fit them all in our driveway, so we keep some of them at Sylvester Manor and some of them off Shelter Island in Greenport.

Catching swarms of bees is really fun. “Catching swarms” means that if you had a beehive in your house or somewhere around your house, you can call us to come take it away instead of calling an exterminator. An exterminator would kill the bees, but we keep them for honey. My grandpa has lots of machines to lift us up to the beehive if it’s up in a tree or on a roof. We have lots of gardens in our neighborhood, so we let the bees fly anywhere they want, to collect the pollen and nectar they will need to eventually make honey.

Summer or spring is the best time for beekeepers because that’s the time for honey. If you want to make your own honey the old-fashioned way, you will need one thing, and that one thing is an extractor. An extractor is a 3-foot tall, silver metal hollow can with little baskets so you can put a honeycomb inside. On the very top of the extractor is a wobbly handle, so you can stir the honeycomb around and around until there is no honey left.

The most important part in beekeeping is the bee gear. Bee gear is a heavy white jumpsuit, but, except for a hood, it’s just a big stiff net. It protects you from getting stung. I will never forget the time when my Mom went in my grandpa’s bucket truck with no gear on. As soon as she had the beehive calm in a box, she felt several raindrops. My grandpa tried getting her down but there was something wrong with the bucket truck, so all the bees started buzzing and then stung her. After about 10 minutes, the bucket truck started working and we pulled her down. She had 32 bee stings. My Mom always wears her bee gear since that day.

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