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Suburban Dad: Stop Me Before I Farm Again

At a certain point last year -- I don’t remember when precisely -- I became suddenly and utterly taken with the idea of raising a flock of chickens on my otherwise typical quarter-acre suburban plot.

I asked you to talk me out of it, but advice came tumbling back and most was all on the order of: go for it.

Well, chickens have been a bit of a comedy of errors -- they were way more expensive to set up than I expected -- but have otherwise been an intriguing and egg-rich joy.

So I’m taking my Johnny-come-lately metamorphosis into a farm boy to the illogical extreme. (No, not cows. See: that quarter acre.) Animals the size of a 1958 Buick are neither advisable nor allowable.

Enter bees.

I’m suddenly fixated with keeping a swarm. Or a hive. Whatever. I’m thinking out loud here.

I’ve seen them at Stone Barns, the educational farm in Westchester. I can’t get their mid-air dance, full of fits and starts, out of my mind. Are they agitated, or just industrious? It’s hard to tell, but fun to try to figure out.

And when I tweeted: “Anyone know anything about raising bees?” Excited responses came tumbling back, along with myriad assurances about how I’ll be a happy, proud bee owner (my between-the-lines read: I probably won’t get stung to death).

I’m a bit smitten. Bees, after all, have that mystery energy field that allows them, working together, to perform great tasks. They create whole societies, not to mention a great condiment. Moreover, bees, like chickens, are good conversation pieces.  Without a suitable focus, suburban conversations can occasionally lag. There is politics, which is always active combat and instantly divisive or kids, which are worse. My generation of parents seems to specializing in publicly deconstructing every passing feeling their sensitive geniuses have had since birth. Well meaning, to be certain, but it’s a bore the size of Bolivia. And if I have to sit through one more conversation about someone’s kitchen renovation, tender mercy: I may beat myself to death with a dishrag.

But, chickens? And bees?  I may be able to chat amiably until I’m carted off to assisted living, at which point it won’t matter.

So what sayeth thou, wise reader? A journalist is supposed to have answers, not questions, but we’re talking bees here so cut me some slack. If I had the answers, I’d already be in my keeper get-up.  Tell me what you’d do.

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