March 6, 2014
by Suzanne Langlois
Queen bees are as elusive as a book in the library stacks, so beekeepers mark them when they spot them. (She’s the big gal wearing red.) photo by Suat Eman via freedigitalphotos.net
As I headed out the door to run errands this afternoon, Fiona spotted the library books under my arm. “Hold on, Mom, if you’re stopping by the library, do you mind checking out some books for me?” she asked, jotting down a few teen dystopia titles. “I’d be happy to,” I lied, slipping her list into my purse. My heart started racing just thinking about the library stacks. The truth is, I have no idea how to find a book in the library. I’ve tried. But I can’t grasp the logic there. I stopped trying the day I looked in vain for a John Grisham novel in the “G” section, then in the “Adult Non-Fiction” section. When a kindly librarian found me walking in circles, sweating and muttering to myself, she escorted me to the “Mysteries” stacks and handed me the book. “Oh, thank you. I thought, you know, given A Time to Kill is a true story and all…,” I stammered in my defense. But she had already mentally lumped me in with those other people who wander the library muttering to themselves for no apparent reason. “Yes, well, I don’t want you to miss the next bus,” she said, very loudly and slowly. The only way I check out books from the library now is from the comfort of my home computer, using the simple point and click library app. I wait for the email announcing, “Your requested material is ready for pick up.” Then all I have to know is where the hold shelf is located. It’s in the same place every time, so I never get lost or distracted. It’s too late for me to confess to my kids that I don’t know how to use the library, and kind of irrelevant now that I’ve found this work-around. They know I’ll check out any book they want. They just have to wait a day or two before I produce it.
I have the same philosophy with identifying the queen in my hive. I should know, after three years of beekeeping, how to find my queen. But I search in vain every time. I’m terrified of smashing her or inadvertently shoving her off a frame and shutting her out of the hive, so I give up looking fairly quickly. If I ask other beekeeper for help, they’ll wonder how this basic task has eluded me for so long. So I found a work-around. I look for eggs in the cells. (Hold a frame up to the sun, and look for little grains of rice.) Under normal circumstances, the queen is the only egg layer. So she is – or at least was recently – alive and well. I wait a week. If I see eggs where I didn’t before, I’ve confirmed she’s in there.