Bringing in the Bees

Many people don’t realize that work on a cranberry farm continues all year round. They know about the fall harvest if they’ve seen the bogs flooded with water and the ruby red cranberries massed together before being sucked into the hopper.

Fall is also the time when the cranberry farmer has to be vigilant against frost, prepared to flood the bogs should the temperature go below freezing. More than once I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night to help my brother with the flooding.

During the winter, the bogs are flooded and when ice has formed, sand is spread out on top. When the water melts in the spring, the sand will filter down to the cranberry crop to encourage growth and keep out weeds. Winter is also the season when farmers spend time maintaining and repairing their equipment.

I’m busy, too. Our farm store is open all year long. We’ve added a commercial kitchen at Sassamanash Farm and I’ve been making our signature cranberry salsa for a local gourmet food chain. I also bake all sorts of cranberry goodies like scones, muffins and bread.

There’s still a danger of frost come spring so farmers are ready to flood the bogs at a moment’s notice. When the weather gets warmer, there’s weeding to be done as well as cleaning accumulated debris from the ditches that funnel water out to the bogs.

It late spring and I was walking toward the farm store and my new kitchen when I noticed a truck parked in a field alongside one of the bogs. It was stacked with unusual looking wood boxes—I’d never seen anything like them before.

My brother Jeff was talking to the driver of the truck.

“What are those boxes?” I pointed toward the truck.

Jeff smiled. “Those are bee hives. We’ve rented bees to pollinate the crop.”

I must have looked dumbstruck because Jeff went on to explain.

“There aren’t enough native bees to do the job. Cranberry flowers aren’t their first choice and most of them flock to the other flowers around the farm.”

The thought of a swarm of bees being released all at once made me rather nervous. I’ve been stung, and it hurts!

“Isn’t it dangerous?”

Jeff shook his head. “Nah. The bee keeper knows what he’s doing. You just have to be careful not to rile up the bees.”

I didn’t like the picture a swarm of riled up bees formed in my mind.

“Don’t worry. You won’t get stung,” Jeff said.

No, I thought later. I didn’t get stung. But someone else did and it proved fatal.

You can read more about Monica in Dead and Berried, the third book in the “Cranberry Cove” mystery series.

It’s hive time for murder in the latest Cranberry Cove mystery from national bestselling author Peg Cochran.

It’s June in Cranberry Cove and Monica Albertson’s plan to sell cranberry relish to chain stores is taking off. The cranberry bogs are in bloom, and local beekeeper Rick Taylor and his assistant Lori Wenk are bringing in bees to pollinate the blossoms. When a fatal prick fells Lori, the buzz is that Rick is to blame.

In trying to clear her friend’s name, Monica discovers that more than a few people in Cranberry Cove have felt the power of Lori’s venom, and it looks as if this time she may have agitated the hive a bit too much. With the fate of the farm on the line, Monica must get to the bottom of the crime before another victim gets stung.

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About the author
A former Jersey girl, Peg now resides in Michigan with her husband and Westhighland white terrier, Reg. She is the author of the Sweet Nothings Lingerie series (written as Meg London), the Gourmet De-Lite series, the Lucille series, the Cranberry Cove series and the Farmer’s Daughter series.

All comments are welcomed.

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