Since I last wrote, many other flowering trees have opened their blossoms. The weather is slightly warmer than usual. It is really spring and the bees are hard at work. This is enough to perk up anyone’s spirits and inspire writing.
Each flowering tree is buzzing. After a hard winter, the bees are beginning to produce honey to feed themselves and their offspring over the summer. Once they have enough stored to live off of, they start to store up food for the winter. That is what I harvest and sell.
Beekeepers are busy, too. Now is the time of year to check how many colonies survived the winter. I did well. 8 of my 9 colonies are doing very well. They have varying quantities of honey in the combs and have a healthy number of larvae and capped larvae. The capped larvae are those who are pupating and will hatch within the week. The ninth colony is very weak. The population is very low and the combs only contain a small amount of honey, but they have a frame of healthy larvae and even some capped larvae. This means that the queen is alive and healthy. With a little TLC, I might get the colony up to strength so I can harvest little honey from them.
While checking the health of the hives, I reversed the boxes. A standard bee hive consists of two boxes in which the queen, the housekeeping bees and nurse bee keep turning out young bees to replace the old worker bees who are dying. At this time of year. The colony has been living in these boxes all winter. by now most of the activity is near the top of the top box so I put each top box on the bottom and each bottom box on the top. I did not inspect the boxes carefully, but the process of reversing boxes allowed me to inspect a few frames of each hive.
I was dismayed that all of the hives had consumed practically all of the honey they stored last summer, but I was pleased that 8 of the hives have a strong population and good reproduction. I was a little surprised to find a row of drone cells in one hive. The drones are now allowed to winter over so the colony must raise a new batch of drones each spring. Since a drone larva takes 8 days longer to hatch than a queen, they need to start producing drones long before any hives start rearing queens. That colony, at least, is preparing for the cycle of life.
I also placed a third box, the super, on top of the bottom two. A screen below the super keeps the queen out while allowing workers to enter the super. All honey combs in the super are pure honey. This is where I will harvest honey starting late May.
I should have been doing all this work about 2 weeks ago, but scheduling conflicts and inclement weather caused me to put the work off until yesterday. As a result, a toiled all Saturday afternoon. By the end of the day, I was tired, but the bees are ready to start laying in honey.
As an author I have also been busy just like the bees. Like most authors, I have several manuscripts that are ready to market. During the fall, I sent out a number of queries for my book Reducing Medical Costs (At a Cost to Health). This is a medical thriller about the risks of managed health care, and doctors knowing too much about a deadly conspiracy to keep medical costs low. Keep in mind that there is a lengthy delay before editors and literary agents get replies back. Mid December, the editor of a small publishing house asked me for the first three chapters of the book. I expected a lengthy wait before the editor might ask for the entire manuscript and another wait while the editor pondered my full manuscript.
In the mean time, I looked at a thriller, A Dangerous Bike Ride that is on my hard drive. This novella is a thriller about a charity bike ride that comes under attack. I decided to make it into a series featuring Richard Tracy, a retired detective, and Mary Beth Austin, a retired chef. Rather than let them peacefully tend their garden in their retirement years, I will be having one or both of them getting into danger in future novellas. Book 2 is in the editing and revision stage. Book 3 is at the conceptual stage, being fleshed out in my brain.
I decided to self publish all of these as e-books. It kept me busy arranging for production and marketing of A Dangerous Bike Ride. The final step before publication of an e-book is approval of the “galley” copy. This is a file of what the book will look like on an e-reader. The author must view it on an e-reader. This is the author’s last chance to revise or correct errors. Once the author approves the manuscript, the e-book can not be changed except at great expense.
The day I received my “galley” copy, I also received an e-mail from the editor of the small press. Attached was a contract for Reducing Medical Costs. Thus just as I was wrapping up one book project, I was plunged into tasks related to satisfying my (new) editor.
A Dangerous Bike Ride is now being marketed as an e-book on 7 websites including websites in Germany, India and Indonesia. Reducing Medical Costs will probably be released some time over the summer.
Take a look at my website, www.ReynoldConger.com, where I showcase both of these books along with my other works.
(photo by James Gale)