NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.
Morgan parked her bike on the trail and clambered over a couple of rocks to get to her beehives. For the umpteenth time, she thought about how grateful she was that Daddy had set up the little apiary and taught her to take care of it. Counterintuitive as it sounded, there was something weirdly soothing about being surrounded by stinging insects eager to defend their home. Today, with her throat still sore from screaming for somebody who really wasn’t worth mourning, Morgan needed the comfort of an afternoon in her apiary, and the unseasonably warm weather meant she could give the hives a quick inspection without endangering their little occupants. She was looking forward to it as she pulled the smoker and a grill lighter from the milk crate Mom had attached to the back of her bike for hauling cargo.
Morgan opened the smoker and pointed the lighter at a wad of cotton she’d gleaned from the side of Route 66 between Tucumcari and San Jon last fall. The raw cotton was great smoker fuel, and it didn’t cost anything. She and Daddy used to go out every year and collect a couple of big ziplock bags full of the stuff. These excursions usually occurred on a Saturday afternoon and ended with a bowl of ice cream at a pizzeria in Tucumcari, where they’d pick up dinner to take home to Mom.
Morgan’s eyes watered, probably not from the smoke, as cotton caught and she flipped the lid shut and squeezed the bellows a couple of times to make sure it was going. She pulled on her gloves and lifted the lid off the first hive, aiming a few puffs of smoke into the opening on the inner hive cover before using her hive tool to pry off the cover. Continue reading Queen Bee