No Lawyers, Just Guns and Honey

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This was a state of the art pistol in the late 1990s and featured an early (and large) red dot. Pete got it out of the safe for the first time in years.
This was a state of the art pistol in the late 1990s and featured an early (and large) red dot. Pete got it out of the safe for the first time in years.

After spending a couple of days shooting last week, it was time to clean my guns, a process made much simpler than it used to be because I own an ultrasonic cleaner.

If you use an ultrasonic cleaner, just be sure to lube your guns very well. It not only removes the dirt, it removes any oil or grease.

While I was cleaning the 1911 I shot, I decided to run my other 1911s through the cleaner. It was an interesting exercise because they all had different kinds of guide rods, so each had had to be taken down slightly differently. The only one I had to look up was an older Infinity in .38 Super I used to use in competition. It’s sat in the safe for so long I could not remember how to remove the spring and guide rod, but once I watched a video, I was like, “Oh yeah. Duh!” I even found the required tool I had made decades ago from a bent finishing nail.

I haven’t shot in competition for at least twelve years and I haven’t shot this gun for closer to twenty. I used to shoot anywhere from 800 to 1,200 rounds a month. Now it probably takes me all year to shoot that many rounds, so it’s no big surprise that my skills have deteriorated. I can still handle a handgun, but with slower splits and transitions between target. Of course, carrying a Glock is one reason my shooting has deteriorated; the trigger is just so crappy. When compared to a 1911, well, there’s no comparison. Even my bare-bones 1911s have a nicer trigger than my Glocks. It’s enough to make me want to get a double-stack 1911 in 9mm, but they cost a fortune.

I’m going to have to break out a few bricks of .22s and shoot until I wear off some of the rust.

Night Moves

I moved two beehives from my existing bee yard to my new out yard. My chief concern is that beehives are heavy, and moving them is no piece of cake. In hindsight, I should have been concerned that bees don’t like you messing with their hives, and picking them up definitely encompasses messing with them.

I was smart enough to staple a piece of #8 hardware cloth over the hive entrances to keep them from flying out. I also knew enough to do it at night, when the bees are not out foraging. What I didn’t know was that bees beard on the front of their hives on warm summer nights. I knew they did this in the day, but I didn’t realize the activity continued into the night.

In any case, when I reach the hive I want to take, there was a stack of bees four to six inches high hanging out on the landing board and clinging to the front of the hive. They look at me and my staple guns and piece of screen and they attack! Despite being suited up, I got stung four times on the same hand. I am grateful that I remain resistant and don’t react much to bee stings. Two years ago, that would have been an extremely painful time. Now it is mildly painful and quite annoying.

This is the entrance to a beehive in the day.  When night fell and the foragers returned, they were several times as many bees, and they were not happy to see me.
This is the entrance to a beehive in the day. When night fell and the foragers returned, they were several times as many bees, and they were not happy to see me.

Needless to say, I changed my mind and picked two smaller hives, both of them recent splits that were still in one hive box. They not only had fewer bees, so no bearding, they were lighter and easier to lift.

New Queens

A fellow beekeeper ordered a bunch of queen bees from a well-known breeder and offered to get me a few. Because queen bees ship via overnight, you might as well buy a bunch of queens at the same time and spread the cost of shipping them over multiple queens.

We met in a parking lot in the rain for the hand-off. If anyone saw us, they probably thought it was a clandestine drug deal done through car windows. Imagine how surprised the cops would have been if they reached into my pocket expecting to find drugs and pulled out two queen bees in their cages!

The last time I got a queen, I had to install her in the rain. I was afraid that would be the case again. Happily, it cleared up right as I got home.

I was in no rush to get queens, although I had been considering “re-queening” some hives to replace older and less-productive queens later in the summer. (Like chickens, the older a queen gets, the fewer eggs she lays, which means smaller hives and less honey production.) Commercial beekeepers often re-queen every year. I have never done so, although nature tends to take care of that for me. After installing these two mated queens, I now have 2024 queens in two full-size hives and three splits and 2023 queens in two hives. That leaves just one that is an unknown quantity. Last year, I spotted a white-dotted queen in that hive, meaning she was born in 2021. I haven’t seen her this year, so I don’t know if they superseded her or if she is still laying, but the hive is chugging along.

The 2024 queens, including these two new ones, should produce well this year and hit their stride next year.

Consider Becoming a Beekeeper

I don’t know if my beekeeping reports have inspired any of my readers to become beekeepers, but I would strongly encourage anyone who is or wants to be a prepper or homesteader to keep bees. You don’t even need a homestead to do it; you can keep bees anywhere you have a back yard or, dare I say it, a balcony. They are quiet, they don’t smell, and you don’t have to walk them several times a day.

Beekeeping is also a good introduction to livestock management on a small scale. You need to provide your bees with shelter, food, and preventative medicine, just like you would for a goat or a dairy cow. A beehive, however, is much less expensive than a barn or even a chicken coop. You can get up and running with two beehives, a protective suit, and all the gear you need for about $1,000.

I started keeping bees and raising chickens for prepping purposes, but beekeeping has become an enjoyable hobby and I’ve made a few friends through it. Chickens are still an important part of our preps, but it’s not so much as a hobby. Besides, if we leave town, we need to get someone to feed the chickens. I can leave the bees untended for a couple of weeks.


P.S. I hope someone got the Warren Zevon “Send lawyers guns, and money” reference.

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