Let’s Work Together.

Almost every election cycle, almost half of the population are dissatisfied with the person elected as president. Perhaps we should expect people to grumble or even protest because their man or woman did not win. Perhaps that is the nature of an election in a democracy. Those of us who vote, cast our ballots expecting our candidate to win. Those ballots are tabulated according to the rules laid out in the Constitution or state and federal laws. The tabulation determines who will be the next president. Unfortunately there can only be one winner which results a lot of unhappy voters.

(Note that only half of our registered voters actually cast ballots. The half who could have voted but did not, should not complain about the outcome. They have forfeited their right to complain.)

Regardless of who wins an election, the government continues to rule the country. The new president runs the executive branch of the government, and a somewhat revised legislative branch makes new laws. In principle, the president and the legislators should be working together to govern efficiently. When there is cooperation, the country runs smoothly.

Instead this year, we have democrats who have vowed to block President Trump’s entire agenda. Perhaps we can understand a desire to oppose certain programs or policies, but what we are seeing is the legislative equivalent of a sit down strike.  This is a violation of the principles of a democracy. While the majority rules, the majority is obligated to pay attention to the minority, and the minority is obligated to cooperate with the majority.

Certainly, we can not expect members of the minority party of rubber stamp everything the president asks. What a healthy democracy requires is that the minority party becomes the loyal opposition. This means they may oppose a proposal or a bill, but they will strive to get what they think is best for their constituents and the country.

Rather than simply trying to block an administration’s bill, they should be working during debate to amend the bill to better serve their constituents. While they may still vote against he final bill, it is possible that their amendment may soften what they think are the undesirable features of the bill. In short, the loyal opposition is obligated to work with the majority to put the bill into its best form.

Likewise, minority senators should not be voting against a nominee based only on whether they think a nominee is too conservative or too liberal. The senate needs to work together to determine the nominee is qualified or not based on their qualifications for the job.

My remarks would apply equally had Hillary become president. While there would have been disappointed republicans, my argument stands that they should be cooperating with her administration.

My concern is that members of our government are wasting a lot of time and energy looking for ways to tear each other down. In spite of anyone’s disappointment, this is not the time to be divisive or obstructive.

If we want a truly great America, we must all work together. Our elected officials must work together, and we, the voters, must support their efforts to work together in the interest of the United State of America.

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How I Develop a Heroine

Readers often ask how an author develops the heroine of his or her book. The temptation for a male author is to use his wife or girl friend as the heroine. I will admit that for my first book, Chased Across Australia, I did just that except that Chased Across Australia is not a romance, it is a thriller. All of the major characters are married so the only romance is the love they share with their mates. There are not even any romantic subplots. Technically in Chased Across Australia, I used my wife in the role of a co-protagonist. She and her husband are chased by terrorists and must work together against the antagonists to survive. In that book it helped for them to be in a stable marriage. By chance, the antagonists are also a couple in a strong marriage.

My second book, My Knight in Shining Armor, is a romance dedicated to a college friend who died in Vietnam. Of course he is the hero. In a romance, the hero is the man who is attracted to the romantic heroine and must strive to win her heart in spite of obstacles. Because the heroine is the woman who he is pursuing, she must be a special lady. She must be beautiful and charming enough to catch his attention in the first chapter, but illusive enough that by chapter three some seemingly insurmountable obstacle keeps them apart. For My Knight in Shining Armor, I blended together several girls who George had dated in college. I gave an edge to the personality of the girl I thought George loved the most.

Of course the personality traits that made these girls desirable to George also attracted other suitors to the heroine. This meant I had to give each of these suitors an undesirable trait that turned off the heroine so that she was ultimately attracted to George’s kind, loving and courageous personality.

My third book, Reducing Medical Costs (at the Cost of Health), is another thriller in which a group of protagonists, medical professionals, must deal with the policies of bureaucrats that endanger lives and with the hit men who are trying to cut costs by prematurely killing expensive patients. Because it has two romantic subplots, two of the protagonists are also romantic heroes. Both of these protagonists become widowed during the book. For the first one, I looked at two charming widows in our neighbor hood and combined their personalities. Why would not a newly widowed neighbor not be attracted to either of these women, and especially a combination of the two? The other protagonist is an emergency room doctor, so I gave him a nurse to fall in love with. For this nurse, I used a school nurse who had served at one of the schools where I taught. She was ideal for the role, so I only made minor adjustments. I am sure she will make an excellent second wife for the grieving doctor.

My next novel will be Stoned for His Faith, and will be released in December or January. It is a Christian thriller in which a pastor writes a book instructing Christians how to witness to Muslims. Of course, there is an enraged mullah who is insulted by the book and leads a party of Muslims to attack him. Because it is a Christian thriller, there would be no need for heroines, except that I have three romantic subplots. Because the protagonist is a widower, I have a widow living next door who is trying hard to use her cooking skills to start a relationship. A man needs more than just good meals, and even more than an attractive female body to get a romance going, so he eventually disappoints the widow next door.

In the mean time our protagonist feels called to reopen six little churches on an Indian reservation. There he meets a most charming woman who is the psychologist at the tribal clinic. There is an immediate attraction between the two, but she does not have Indian features. He thinks she must be a contract worker who will soon disappear back to wherever she is from. She thinks he has promised to marry his former next door neighbor. Both fear that a romance would become a disappointment. It was a real challenge to get a serious relationship going between the protagonist and the psychologist. This woman had to be professional and interested, like the protagonist, in helping people. She also had to share his love for hiking and camping. I more or less made the psychologist out of whole cloth, giving her personality traits that would have attracted me if I had been the protagonist. All I can say about the results of this romantic subplot, is that when one’s life is in danger, it is wonderful to have a loving woman at one’s side.

The second subplot is between a high school girl and the place kicker for the football team. Both were modeled after former students of mine. While they are minor characters, their romance helpes move the plot forward.

By this time, I was feeling sorry for the former next door neighbor. I had modeled her after a teacher with whom I had taught. This teacher has two endearing physical features: Her jet black hair did not even start to turn gray until she was in her mid seventies, and her fine complexion always looked ten years younger than her age. While her beauty and her cooking skills made her a temptation for the widowed pastor, they made her the perfect soul mate for the always hungry man who she meets late in the story.

I have also written The Richard Tracy Series, three novellas about a retired detective and a retired chef. (Published as e-books.) They are attracted by the fact they are both athletic in their retirement and they are both avid gardeners. They make a perfect pair except that he is a marathon runner while she is a serious bicycle rider. They meet on a two-day charity bike ride, but Richard really does not enjoy cycling. He has been encouraged by his adult children to join them on the bike ride. On the other hand, Mary Beth thinks cycling is much more fun than running. Running is something she only did in her youth to get ready for softball season.

How can a runner who hates cycling get along with a cyclist who thinks running is just hard work? Of course they are bonded together by things they have in common such as gardening, but this contrast in athletic specialties actually further bonds them as they each make sacrifices to support the other in his or her choice of sport. By the way, she is not a weakling. In some books, Richard must rescue her. In others, she must rescue Richard. So far through three novellas, they very happy and committed to each other. I hope this love will thrive through two or three more novellas.

In real life, a man and woman must be somewhat compatible to have a successful romance. Likewise in fiction, the author must find the right man and right woman to write a romance or even to write a romantic subplot in a book of another genre. Hopefully the reader will think the author simply threw the perfect man and the perfect woman into the plot, and eventually they lived happily ever after. It should look this easy, but in truth, it is hard work creating the right romantic heroine for her romantic hero.

More information about these books can be found on www.ReynoldConger.com.

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Can You Help Save the Bees?

I am a beekeeper, and my well meaning friends keep sending me articles about the impending total loss of honey bees. A friend referred me to an article (sorry link no longer open) telling the reader he or she could help save bees by building an exotic bee hive in which the bees build honey comb in glass jars and fill the combs with honey. I found the design interesting, but doubt it will save many bees. To build the hive will require more than the steps shown. To maintain such a hive, one needs to have beekeeping skills to keep the colony alive and equipment to tend the hive without being stung. Bees glue everything in the hive together with propolis. Thus the average person is likely to have difficulty removing the jars from the hive, and will probably have difficulty harvesting the jars of honey. Without protective equipment, they will get badly stung in the process.

We are losing bees. I myself lost half my hives two winters ago, and there are reports that my county’s largest beekeeper lost 100 hives last year. I have yet to confirm that Ken lost 100 hives, but he probably lost a large number. Part of the reason I am a beekeeper is that my back lot neighbor lost all of his bees six winters ago, I noticed decline in pollination of my garden. At the same time he and his wife were preparing to move to Albuquerque so he was willing to sell all of his equipment to me. In the process of loading hive boxes into my truck, he discovered a single box with a lid, and bees flying in and out of the entrance. After taking a peek under the lid, he said, “You have a live one here. Come back at sundown and haul them to your yard.”

As the sun set, I used duct tape to close the entrance and hauled the box around the block to my back yard. This was indeed a colony of survivors. The next day when I opened the hive I found it infested with wax worms. The larvae of this blue moth love to munch on bees wax. This box had contained ten frames on which the bees drew comb. In these combs the bees raise larvae and pupae and store honey and pollen. The wax worms had destroyed seven frames and filled 70% of the box with debris. Considering that most colonies live in a hive made of two boxes, this colony was reduced to living in 15% of the space they expect to have to live in. I placed the three good frames and bees in a clean box and gave them seven new frames. My first colony of bees has served me well. I still have the descendants of that colony.

wax worms are only one predator that can wipe out a colony of bees. Bears, skunks, mice, yellow jacket hornets, and several species of mites pray on honey bees. Any of them can weaken if not destroy a colony of bees. In addition, there are a number of diseases that can kill bees. In addition to predators, diseases, and pesticides, poor management can cause the demise of a colony. Bees store honey as their winter food. Beekeepers are careful not to harvest too much food. In addition, most beekeepers provide supplementary food in the form of syrup to help the bees survive the winter. I suspect this contributed to my neighbor’s loss of bees. We had an unusually cold winter, and he had not been feeding them. He sold me no feeders. It is likely that at least some of his colonies ran out of food in the cold weather.

For centuries beekeepers have know about the hazards mentioned above, but we have many colonies that get wiped out without explanation. Many bee hives have been left empty by a syndrome known as sudden colony collapse disorder (SCC). Researchers are working hard to learn why some hives are suddenly empty without explanation. Perhaps the bees went elsewhere to die because no dead bees are left in the hive. Some researchers suspect that SCC is the result of a virus. SCC has raised the alarm because the results are so catastrophic.

Yes, there are enormous numbers of colonies of bees being lost every year, but as a beekeeper, let me assure you that the honey bee is not about to become extinct in the immediate future. At the same time that bee colonies are being lost, new colonies are being formed. Overcrowded colonies will swarm. When they swarm they leave the old hive with a new queen and half the bees. The swarm flies off with the old queen and the other half of the bees. Given the opportunity, the swarm will establish a new colony. Now we have two colonies where we once had one. Beekeepers often prevent a hive from swarming by moving half the bees to a new hive. The half without the queen will rear a new queen. This creates a new colony, and there are breeders who grow and sell queens to beekeepers like me who may want to start more colonies of bees.

There is no crisis of the proportion being predicted by the media, but bees need our protection. Their pollination services are vital to the production of many of our crops. While I think the “save the bees” lobby is trying to start panic, they do have a point. We do need to protect the bees and minimize the losses of colonies. Obviously the proper use of pesticides and even the banning of some pesticides will greatly help. Good bee husbandry practices are also called for. You can also participate in saving the bees.

You are probably not a beekeeper dressed in a bee suit with veil and gloves, but your participation is as important as mine when you do the following:

  1. Use pesticides with care. Some pesticides are deadly to bees. Do not use them on or around blooming plants. Choose your pesticides carefully and then follow the directions. Many pesticides do not injure bees when used properly.
  1. Do not reflexively spray bees with your favorite pesticide. The only bees actively trying to sting you are those guarding the entrance of a hive. Simply ignore bees randomly flying around your yard. If there are a large number of bees pestering you, look for the source. You may have a colony of bees living in a hollow tree or in the wall of your house, or a swarm may have come into your yard. Seek the help of a beekeeper.
  2. If you think you need to call an exterminator, ask him to refer you to beekeeper for bee removal. My friend, Jim, is a professional exterminator, but he only kills those bees that can not safely be removed. Primarily these are colonies high up in trees or in walls that can not be opened. For anything else, Jim refers them to me or to another beekeeper.
  3. Occasionally, you will find a swarm in your yard. A large number of bees may fly in with a loud buzz. They will land on a solid object like a tree branch and form a ball. Sometimes, you may not hear them come, but suddenly see a large cluster of bees hanging on something. What you see hanging there is a swarm of bees. Do not panic. Leave them alone. Do not spray them with anything. Call a beekeeper. Our local association of Beekeepers maintains a hotline and a list of people prepared to capture swarms. In addition each spring, I give memos to the 911 dispatch center and all police and fire stations in our county. I get a large number of swarm calls either from 911 dispatchers or from people who are told by a dispatcher to call me. The beekeeper will capture the swarm and install it in a hive in his bee yard. I catch swarms for free, but some beekeepers charge a nominal fee.
  4. If you discover bees living in the wall of your house or an outbuilding, call a beekeeper. They can remove the colony of bees and move it to a hive in a bee yard. This procedure is called a cut out because it is usually necessary to open up the wall. A cut out is a labor intensive procedure and is expensive. An exterminator may tell you it is cheaper to kill the bees, but if you want to save the bees, call a beekeeper.
  5. The last thing you want is a swarm moving into the wall of your house. I hang swarm traps around my yard. To a bee, a swarm trap looks like a furnished condo. Frequently a swarm will move into a trap if it is available. Unfortunately you need a beekeeper to relocate the bees from the trap into a hive. I lease swarm traps, and I am sure some other beekeepers do the same. My lease arrangements include my services to empty the trap each time they catch a swarm. If you are concerned about bees in your wall, look into leasing a swarm trap.

The bees can be saved by a concerted effort of beekeepers, researchers, environmentalists, exterminators, and people like you.

If you are interested in keeping bees and harvesting honey, my recommendation is to take a beekeeping course so you know what you are doing. Buy protective equipment to minimize the stings. Buy tools and hive components so you can keep your bees healthy. A “standard” bee hive will be easier to manage than the fancy hive talked about in the first paragraph. You may not be able to see the bees storing honey, but you will be able to harvest the honey more easily. Beekeeping is fun and will enable you to save bees. Of course, the honey you harvest is good tasting.

For information or advice about keeping bees, you may contact me through my web page, www.ReynoldConger.com.

I have added a Bee Page to my website. It is under construction, but stop by for a look at short articles about bees and pictures of bees.

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New Book in the Works

I have turned my manuscript of Stoned for His Faith over to Covenant Books for publication. The editor has finished his editorial review, and I have reviewed his editing. Of course, we have our differences of opinion, but only one area of significant disagreement about how we should handle handwritten notes that hero makes while unable to speak. Either way it is resolved, I expect the reader will understand that the hero is unable to speak because of his head injury, but can write notes. I do have to compliment the editor for several recommendations he or she made. Several of the recommendations enabled me to make some of my sentences better.

At the moment, there is no time schedule for publication, but I am pleased that this book is in process. Humble that I am, I think this is the best of my books so far. As with most of my books, I have written this book from a Christian perspective. Because the main characters include a pastor and an evangelist, I have the opportunity to gently expose the reader to Christian doctrine.

The plot involves a retired pastor who has written a book teaching Christians how to witness to Muslims. People who have the book are successful working with Muslims. When the book falls into the hands of a Muslim mullah, the mullah is enraged and sets out to find Randy, the retired pastor, and stone him. There is a lot of intrigue, danger and action. One teen is so timid he doesn’t want to play football. In the end, he becomes the hero of the day.

There is also a bit of romance to spice up the story. Randy is a widower. A woman from his former congregation plays matchmaker and throws three beautiful women his way.

When it comes out, I will let everyone know. In the mean time, look at ReynoldConger.com to find out about those books that are already on the market.

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Swarm Season Is Here

My last post was about bees and bee swarms. Bees are not expected to swarm in New Mexico until mid to late April.

My bees apparently do not know how to read the calendar. Yesterday two of my hives swarmed and it is still March. I think they have been fooled by the unseasonably warm weather and the abundance of fruit trees blooming.

Swarming bees leave the hive in a group. If the swarm is large enough, it looks like a river of bees in the sky, and the sound can get rather loud.

Yesterday in the afternoon, my wife came in from the back yard all excited. She said the backyard was full of bees going crazy. She had seen a swarm departing, apparently from one of my hives. They took off, and we do not know where they went. Then I went out to do some gardening and heard a loud buz. I walked toward a group of three hives and saw bees rising in a cloud from a hive. As I watched, they started moving south. I attempted to determine their direction of flight so that I could follow them. I walked to the other side of a plum tree. Suddenly, I could hear them, but I could see no bees. Closer inspection of the tree showed the bees were forming up on a branch of the plum tree.

Unlike the first swarm that had taken off and flown out of sight, the second swarm flew less than 50 feet (15 meters) from their hive to the plum tree. I waited until most of the swarming bees had either landed on the branch or on another bee. A small number of bees were still flying around the branch as though deciding where to land.

Meanwhile I brought my swarm equipment out of storage and made up some sugar water. This closer shot of the swarm shows how the bees are in a cluster on the branch with the queen somewhere near the center. I began by spraying the bees with the sugar water. This makes it difficult for the bees to fly. Then using a soft brush, I brushed the bees off the branch into a large box. One all the bees were in the box, I put a lid on it and carried it to where I wanted the new hive to be. There, I set up a new hive. I made sure most of the frames had at least a little wax on them and a few were almost completely covered with empty comb.

I brushed the bees from the box, into the hive. Now I have a new colony of bees. Unfortunately, the old hive and the new hive are at half strength. The colony will have to raise more worker bees and thus will produce little, if any, surplus honey for me this year.

Two of my hives have swarmed. The good news is that there are now two more colonies of bees than there were on Wednesday, and one of them is safely housed in a hive on my property. The bad news is that the first swarm probably waited on a branch in someone’s yard over night while the scouts were searching for a new home. Days have been warm, but nights have been cool. Thursday night the temperature dropped to 40 F (5 C). At that temperature, they may not have survived the night. Perhaps clustered tightly together, body heat may have kept many of them alive, but certainly the outer layer would have been at risk. Fortunately, I captured the second swarm and located them in a hive box where they were sheltered from the wind and could use their body heat more effectively to keep warm.

Do not be afraid of a swarm of bees. Call a bee keeper or call 911. Most 911 dispatchers have a list of available bee keepers. By calling a bee keeper, you can help save bees. While you are waiting, observe the swarm carefully. You may learn something. You may even want to keep bees yourself.

Reynold Conger is a bee keeper. If you have any questions about bees, go to his web page where there is a form for contacting him. If you become interested in keeping bees, contact him for information about how you can keep bees.

Reynold Conger is also an author. go to his web page for information about the books he writes.

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Save the Bees


There is a great deal of talk about save our bees . Indeed, we need to protect our bees because they are beneficial. The majority of our crops require pollination by insects, and bees are among the best pollinators. As individuals, bumble bees are probably the best pollinators, but honey bees rank very high in the numbers of plants pollinated. This is because there are so many bees and they service a large number of flowers. If we were to lose our honey bees, our food supply would be cut drastically and would be limited to only a few foods.

The good news is that there is no reason to believe that we might lose our bees within a short time, but we need to protect bees now while they are plentiful.

There have always been dangers to bee colonies. One winter I lost half my hives to cold and mice. An earlier winter, my neighbor, a serious bee keeper with 30 active hives, was wiped out by an unusually cold winter. Bees have predators ranging from bears to mice to microscopic mites. The larger predators destroy hives physically or eat the larvae. The very small predators attack individual bees, but this weakens the colony. Bees also have diseases that can weaken a colony or even destroy it. Very cold weather can kill larvae directly or can simply cause a colony to run out of food.

More recently, bees have been at risk because of sudden colony collapse (SCC) or colony collapse disorder (CCD). Hives with with strong colonies suddenly are empty without signs of a large die off of bees or any signs of disease or predator attack. Researchers suspect it might be a virus, but they are still working on the syndrome. There have been efforts to quarantine the shipment of bees from regions with high incidence of SCC. A few geographic regions have lost almost all of their bees, presumably due to SCC. This is a problem, but not yet a catastrophic epidemic. Some researchers have found clues to prevention of SCC.

Insecticides also put bees at risk. Bees can tolerate some insecticides, but others are highly toxic to them. We need to be careful to only use insecticides according to directions, and never by random application.

Related to this is the increase in genetically modified organisms (GMO). Some GMO plants are more vigorous because the GMO plant has the ability to generate its own insecticides. In some cases this is not a threat to bees, but other plants generate compounds that kill bees. Some established bee keepers have had to move their hives because of large losses of bees when neighbors plant certain GMO crops. The use of GMO crops needs to be investigated closer.

While it is popular to be politically active against insecticides and GMO plants, the biggest impact an individual can have on the bee population is to report swarms. A bee keeper can easily capture a swarm of bees and install them into a hive to become productive bees.

Swarming is nature’s way of protecting bee colonies from overcrowding, and at the same time increasing the number of bee colonies.

Each colony had one and only one queen. She is the only bee in the colony who can lay eggs and will lay up to 2000 eggs a day. If a queen dies, the colony faces extinction, but worker bees have the ability to feed large amounts of royal jelly to extremely young larvae. As a result they grow into queens. Typically, when a colony loses its queen, a half a dozen or more queen larvae are started. The first one to hatch, kills the rest and becomes queen.

A colony swarms when it becomes overcrowded in whatever shelter it uses for a hive. By some signal humans are not aware of, the workers start queen larvae as though the queen had died. Then about a week before the new queen hatches, the old queen departs with about half of the population of the hive. They fill their stomachs with honey and fly, as a hoard, a short distance, 100 yards to ¼ mile and rest. Typically they rest on a tree limb but any surface will do. The bees cling together into a ball with the queen safely tucked in the middle. These bees are primarily busy trying to stay together and to protect the queen. While swarming, the bees seldom sting unless directly provoked. They will rest in a swarm formation for up to 36 hours. During this time the bees can be swept into a box and carried off. This should be done by a bee keeper who will then put them in an empty hive box in his beeyard where they can take up residence.

Far too many people panic and spray the swarm with insecticide thinking the bees might attack them. Here is where the public can SAVE THE BEES. Simply leave the bees alone and call for a bee keeper. Local bee keeper associations keep lists of bee keepers prepared to collect swarms. Each spring I send memos to police departments and to the 911 dispatch center. If you do not know the name of a bee keeper or the phone number of your local bee keeper’s association, call 911. I get about half of my calls through the 911 dispatchers.

While waiting for a bee keeper, stand back a respectful distance and watch the show. Some bees will fly off the cluster and return after a very short flight. Others will move a short distance causing the cluster of bees to change shape. Keep other people away from the swarm, and be on the lookout to help guide the bee keeper to the swarm. The bee keeper will sweep the entire swarm into a collection box. If he is successful in capturing the queen, most of those bees who did not get swept into the box will follow the box, many sitting on the outside all the way back to my bee yard.

Some bee keepers charge a nominal fee. I am told I should charge $35 for my services, but I am glad to obtain a new colony of bees, and some of my clients are of limited means so I charge no fee. In any event, by calling a bee keeper, you have protected a colony of bees from being killed.

While the swarm of bees is resting, a small number of scout bees are looking for a new home for the colony. If the swarm is not collected by a bee keeper, the entire swarm will take to wing and follow the scout to the location the scout has found. It may be a hollow tree, a hole in a wall, or a box with an opening. There they will establish a hive for the colony.

A problem occurs when the colony moves into a hole in the wall of a building such as a residence. Generally people do not appreciate bees flying in and out of a hole in their house. Once the hive is established guard bees at the entrance are more than prepared to sting people they see as a threat. Exterminators will kill the colony for a fee of several hundred dollars. For a slightly larger fee, one can hire a bee keeper who is prepared to remove the colony alive. Unfortunately, there is usually the need to open a wall which results in further costs. This is another way to save the bees.

Rather than run the risk of bees residing where they do not belong, I build swarm traps. This is a box that has all the attributes the scout bees are looking for. I have observed scout bees looking at the swarm trap. A few hours later, the box will be alive with activity as the bees settle in. When there is activity in one of my swarm traps, I dump the bees into a modern bee hive and have a new colony of bees in my beeyard. I have trapped as many as three swarms in a single season in the trap near my back door.

I lease traps to people and businesses in my locality who do not want to be invaded by bees. When activity is visible in the trap, I service it. I am willing to share the design upon request, but be aware that a swarm trap is of limited usefulness unless there is a bee keeper to service it.

To save the bees, become politically active if you have the talent, but everyone can help save the bees by reporting swarms. Each time a swarm of bees is collected by a bee keeper or caught in a trap, that colony is given a high probability to become a productive colony.

Long live the Queen bee.

Swarming season in New Mexico is usually April through June, but I have seen swarms as early as mid March and as late as mid August. Please be prepared to observe and report swarms. Further north, add a month for states like Kansas and add 2 months for Wisconsin.

Requests about a swarm trap or about bee keeping may be sent using the reply feature on his website, ReynoldConger.com.

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and teacher who gardens and keeps bees. He also writes fiction. His books are available through on line book stores. For information about Reynold’s books, see ReynoldConger.com.

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First Person Plural

In theory one can write a book or story in any combination of voice and tense. Some combinations work well, and others are difficult to keep from being awkward. We usually write In third person past tense, or first person past tense. Third person works well when we are acting as a narrator telling someone else’s story. First person works very well when we are telling something about our self. Usually the story has happened, so past tense is a natural way to tell the story. We could use future tense or even present tense, but it won’t work as well, even for the best of authors.

Most scholars say that second person can not be used, but I know of at least one book written in second person. The technique worked, but not very well. First person plural, however is a viable option. The problem is that few of us are used to using “we” continuously.

My grandfather had five children, one of whom was living in India with her husband. He felt it would be helpful to have a family news letter. Every Sunday afternoon, he would prepare The Sunday Snooze. Only recently did a cousin inform me that it was a pun for “The Sunday’s News”.

At that time, one could purchase an aerogram for about half the price of an airmail stamp. This was a piece of light weight paper with postage printed on one side. One could write as much as possible on the paper, fold it, and mail it, but you could not send any enclosures. Grandpa would alternate sheets of carbon paper and sheets of manifold paper.. Manifold paper was the light weight paper then used by secretaries to make carbon copies. He placed the stack of carbon paper and manifold paper on the aerogram and crank the stack of paper into his typewriter. He would type a one page news letter and mail out a copy to each family.

The typed copy would be the aerogram to Aunt Wilma and Uncle Charles. Everyone else got a carbon copy. Originally there were five copies, or perhaps as many as seven if he sent copies to other relatives. My grandfather also had 14 grandchildren. As each of us married, he added another carbon and sheet of paper so that us married grandchildren could get our own copies. Fortunately he went into a retirement home before too many of us married. I do not know how he got all of that paper into his typewriter as it was.

I am now the patriarch of the family and decided to resume publication of The Sunday Snooze in the form of a group e-mail. A copy goes to each of my relatives and one to each of my wife’s relatives. I write it in first person plural because it involves news of the both of us, and sometimes items about other relatives. I write most of it with my wife adding a sentence or paragraph here and there as she proof reads it.

I found myself in deep distress. In the middle writing, “We went to the gym. . .”,I kept finding myself slipping into the use of singular pronouns. It is terrible to be talking about what we did and then say I did such. My English teacher would certainly have marked that down for not using the same tense for the entire paragraph or more. Of course, I have to go back and replace I with Reynold and She with Gay. It is frustrating, but probably good practice.

I recently wrote a book length manuscript about a future king of England who falls in love with the last remaining unmarried royal princes. Unfortunately she is not the kind of woman he should marry, and their relationship causes all kinds of tension in the book. At one point he tries to resolve some of the tensions by having a meeting with some of his adversaries. He is advised to remain very formal because formality will give him, the king, a psychological advantage. Centuries ago, the monarchs of England began the practice of referring to themselves in first person plural when seated on the throne for formal state occasions. For example the king might say, “We have read a report of the situation, and we are not pleased! We have determined the act to be treasonous, and upon conviction, we will order the crown prosecutor to ask for capital punishment.”

So here is this future king who is used to talking much like any commoner, and his advisers have recommended that he sit on the royal throne and speak about himself in first person plural. As with the family letter, I struggled with the dialogue. It was hard, but it was fun. The king certainly had a psychological advantage when he thundered, “We are not pleased!”

Most of the time we write in third person singular and occasionally in first person singular. If you are an author, consider trying to write something in first person plural or even in third person plural. It may not be anything worth publishing, but it should expand your writing skills.

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist and teacher. In his retirement he writes fiction. For information about his books go to www.ReynoldConger.com.

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