Go-Karts and The Wharnsbee Family


It was a beautiful, 90 minute drive out past the small town of Exeter to Ferguson Apiaries where I picked up my nucleus (nuc) colony of bees.

With windows down and wind in my beard, the demos to my new CD were whining out from the CD player as I enjoyed the drive through lush, green South-western Ontario countryside.  I figured I might was well “work” on my new album a little en route to collect my bees.  Listening and re-listening to song  demos, hundreds of times ~ especially while driving to do errands ~ has always helped me build mental arrangements for what I want the finished versions of the songs to sound like.

Once I arrived at the farm, I was greeted by the proprietor’s young grandson who waved to me from his motorized, home-made go-kart.   He pulled up next to my jeep, stopped his engine and climbed out to show me his vehicle’s new “paint job” ~ which he proudly explained he had done with a gold spray-bomb just the day before.   His grandfather had built him the ruggedly enchanting puddle-jumper and just seeing it brought out the 8 year old in me.   In fact, building my daughters their own go-kart (foot powered) from some old bicycle wheels and a large antique, wooden soap box I acquired last spring, is on my own summer “To Do” list.   Though this young fellow’s hot-rod gave me some great building ideas, all too soon we were walking to his grandparent’s shop and shifting conversation from mud-buggies to bees.

Within in the little store ~ full of honey jars and bees-wax related merchandise ~ I was finally introduced to Mr. Ferguson and the colony of bees he had packaged up for me.  Suddenly the reality of having my own hive was buzzing before me in a thin box, with only a mesh opening in the top.   Through the screen I could see hundreds and hundreds of little black and yellow insects ~ building, working and warning me with their communal hum to watch my every move.

It was daunting ~ but with some basic instructions from a pro and a bold “bismillah” under my brave breath, I tucked the box beneath my arm and took them out to the car.

Before leaving the farm, the young lad with the go-kart was eager to give me a ride ~ even offering to let me drive!     “Nope,” I told him, “these are your wheels.   You drive!”    We were off and across the lawn, down the lane-way toward the road, through some mud and back over to my car ~ me wishing I could swap him vehicles and drive back home in true style.

Go Kart
Heading home to Kitchener, the bees sang loudly in their temporary hive.   The music was beautiful, but admittedly, also somewhat ominous ~ reawakening memories of the old 1970’s horror film “Killer Bees” I had seen as a kid.   Regardless of the beautiful day, the sun, the sky, the fields passing me by ~  as I drove, all I could see in my mind were imaginings of how I would transfer the nuc into the hive I had built and painted earlier in the week.   Would they attack me?  How many times would I get stung?   Would they fly up my sleeves?  Up my trouser-legs?  Up my nose?  Would I be able to get the bee smoker working well enough to calm them?  A million worries wrinkled my forehead ~ as the bees just hummed with the breeze through the windows.

Attempting to ease my fears, I concluded I should talk to the incarcerated passengers ~ they were, after all, leaving their secluded country lifestyle to take up residence in the city.   Imagine how they must have felt?  Being in a car for the first time, hearing sounds they’d never heard before, wondering if I was going to  help them or harm them.   They buzzed so loudly that, even with my windows open, I could hear them all the way from the back of my Jeep each time I stopped at an intersection.

Back at home, I set the empty base hive  in a permanent location behind my garage and prepared to transfer the bees from their travel box to their new domain.  Donning a heavy, hooded, corduroy frock (which I lovingly refer to as my “Bilbo Baggins attire”), a screened veil and some gloves, I took my smouldering bee-smoker in hand and went to the hive.

The experience was incredible and all I had imagined it would be since my youth.

Before The Transfer

Before the transfer, with the new nuc in the box to the bottom right.

The moment I lifted the lid of the transport box, there was an initial rush of anxiety through my veins, as hundreds of bees flew up and around me in excitement.     With their wings whirling near my head ~ singing in high pitched harmony ~ I reminded myself to remain focused with nothing to fear.  A cool calm fell over me as I inspected the four frames to be wedged free from the box and transferred to the permanent hive.  With my hive tool I loosened the frames, gently lifting them up and out ~ trying to be ever so cautious not to harm the queen.  Quickly examining them ~ I realized the bees (slightly stunned by the puffs of smoke I had washed over them upon opening the nuc) were not agitated by my stirring of their colony.  In fact, they almost appeared to step out the way for me to work.   Using a soft brush, I swept them off the edges of the frame corners and within only a few minutes, the transfer had been made.  All four frames of bees and brood were settled in their new hive.

That was fourteen days ago.

Since that time I have gone out several times to supply my new friends with mason jars of home-made syrup (a 50/50 blend of sugar and water), providing them with strength needed to build up the initial hive, and also as a means of weaning them into their new environment.   Today I costumed up once again to open the hive and inspect the brood, shifted the frames around a little in preparation for the the additional boxes (supers) I will add in coming weeks for honey deposit.  The bees and I seem to get along ever so cordially (I think they like me?) and from what my amateur eyes can asses, it seems the queen must be fine, as new cardboard coloured brood capping fills most of the comb in each frame and general hive activity is high.

Each visit to their little apartment has provided me with such joy.  I head back to the short stack of white boxes with excitement, anticipation and a romance I have only ever associated with youthful courting or the rush of bashful, giddiness felt when my wife and I are reunited after too long apart.

Which reminds me ~ I must begin packing and preparing to travel once again.  Next Monday I leave for Pakistan to be reunited with my wife and daughters after two months apart.

Here comes that giddy, school-boy excitement again.

Categories: Family, Simple Living, The Bee Yard

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17 thoughts on “Go-Karts and The Wharnsbee Family

  1. Zara

    I’ve read all articles from this blog (as many my friends, neighbors….we discussed some interesting topics and ideas) and thought nothing could surprise me any more, but this….speachless

  2. Mona Rahman

    Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    Masha Allah. What an adventure. I am eager to hear about the next or if the bee journey and if your new friends and neighbours are generous with their honey. Someone I went to school with is in the bee and honey business as well. I could connect you if you wish insha Allah.

    Glad to hear that the family will be reunited soon. I’m sure you have all missed each other immensely. Salams and love to them Insha Allah.

    Wassalamu ‘alaikum

  3. Everytime I check in with you, our lives seem to mirror each other. I have two hives now… a new beekeeper myself. Are you using a foundation? if so, what kind?

  4. How marvelous my friend! Indeed ~ it seems we live in parallel worlds. Congratulations on the new hives. It is all very new to me as well, having only acquired my nuc about two weeks ago. Usually hive activity gets rolling in spring with the warmer weather and spring flowers blooming, so it is very late in the season for me to be trying to build up a new brood in mid July. However, a local bee-keeper told that the season started a bit late in my area anyway, so my hive should be strong enough to survive into winter ie. produce enough honey for themselves by autumn. Let’s hope he is right. He also told me I may even be able to harvest some for myself this season, but it will all depend upon how strong the colony is over the next few weeks (Hence I am still feeding them sugar-syrup). In answer to your question though: Yes ~ I am using foundation wax. I only have one bottom box and plan on having two supers atop it for honey down the road. In the bottom box (for the Queen and brood) I am using wax foundations with vertical support wires…but I didn’t install horizontal support wires…do you think I should? One person told me there would be no need to, but on-line it seems many others do. I have no plans on ever selling honey commercially, and do not have any interest in buying a centrifuge to extract honey from built up foundation wax…my only plan is to harvest honey in a traditional way ~ along with it’s comb. I love to just chew the wax comb and have the honey explode into my mouth! Thus, I will only be using extra thin 100% beeswax foundations, cut into 1-2 inch strips and hung across the tops of the super frames…as the bees draw out the comb and then build it down to the bottom of the frame with natural wax, the foundations cannot be full-size, plastic or have support wires (naturally, since the wax is eaten and must be very thin.) Pictures! Pictures! Send me pictures of your hives!

  5. Salams dear Mona,

    Hoping you and your family are well. Thank you for checking into my blog and always being such a dear about keeping in touch. Peace and love to your whole clan during these special days of Ramadan.

  6. Mona Rahman

    Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

    By the way, is that new Colours of Islam book available yet? I couldn’t find it last time I checked SoundVision.

    JazakAllahu khairan
    Wassalamu ‘alaikum

  7. Salams Mona,

    The new “Colours of Islam” book is not yet available in North America. I believe Kube Publishing are aiming to have it released here in January. Sound Vision Canada may carry it, but most direct (and cheapest!) would be to pop into pre-order it at a Chapters/Indigo store near you. http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/colours-of-islam/9780860375913-item.html?ikwid=colours+of+islam&ikwsec=Home&gcs_requestid=0CKDE7J-TzLgCFcbj5wodDRkAAA

  8. Haha, so good to hear from you. We’re still hoping to get up there and visit you soon just gotta figure out logistics (we have a 3 month old now in addition to the 7 year old)– even more so now that I was retroactively gifted Canadian citizenship. Did the whole God bless the Queen and all that 🙂 But that’s a longer story for when we sit and chat.

    Congrats on your new hive as well! My neighbors gifted me the first hive to get me started. It had plastic foundation and is, like yours, a Langstroth hive, a 10 frame box. I just added a second box on top of it, as I’ve been reading that two boxes of brood + honey is good enough for them to survive the winter.

    I bought the 2nd hive. At the moment it is 3 medium boxes deep. It also has plastic foundation. The more I read though, the more I’m moving towards ‘natural beekeeping’ While I get the idea of feeding our bees sugar in their infancy to get them up to speed, the idea of feeding them sugar during the winter ‘because I kinda stole most of their food’ rubs me the wrong way. hahaha

    So, just before I started typing this, I assembled some foundation-less frames for the supers, to see if the ladies will build their own comb. I fit some popsicle sticks in the groove and covered them in beeswax to give them a little starter strip– similar to your 1-2 inch strips to give them something to start with. Experiments! I may eventually try a completely top-bar hive. As a new beekeeper myself I don’t have an opinion on the horizontal support wires. Just be careful when you are inspecting so nothing falls!

    Like you I have no desire to sell honey commercially, but I am reading up on various extraction methods (crush and drain, salad spinner, other spinny things, etc)

    I’ll try chewing straight on the comb and let you know how I like it!
    Will email you photos soon.

    Lots of love to you and the family,

  9. ps. I’ve been reading a lot from this guy: http://www.backyardecosystem.com/backwards-beekeeping/starting-over-starting-right-natural-beekeeper/ He makes me feel like I’m doing it all wrong, haha… but I’m going to try his methods and see what happens

  10. Saarah Nisaa

    I just wanted to say that I truly enjoyed reading this – and give my respects to the queen.
    I think it’s amazing that you’re keeping bees. Personally I’ve never thought of the idea – I’ve heard about beekeeping and all but never actually thought of doing it myself. After all, my family and I have a fear of bees. Every time a bee enters a room, we all run out. Though here in England it usually rains so we don’t expect many bees to join us in the house.Though the past few days it has been pretty sunny.

  11. Salaam! I just discovered that you blog, love it! This was an amazing read. Would love to do something like this in the future inshAllah. We’re just starting a small kitchen garden..that’s enough commitment for me at this point haha.

  12. brother

    Salam brother Dawud, inshaAllah everything is good with you and your family.
    Will you please make a blog post of your song “Out of Sight, Out of Mind?”
    I recently re-heard it after so long and MashaAllah it’s amazing.
    This lyrics and the way you sing it, it’s so emotional and just so perfect.
    The only thing is I don’t understand the meaning of some of the lyrics. I’ve tried to contact you via twitter, but it seems you don’t have one. And I don’t use facebook. So InshaAllah you get this message.
    I really want to know what inspired you to write each one of the lines in the song and what you exactly meant by them.

  13. Hadjra

    Salaams Uncle,

    Your music and your voice is amazing! I’m a big fan of yours. Nice website by the way.
    Your inspiring to many people out there. My father has your albums he is a big fan like me!!
    I’m British Pakistani and nineteen years old and from Birmingham Uk. My name in arabic is hajar.

    Lots of Respect to you Uncle 🙂

  14. Greetings of peace dear Hadjar, thank you for the sweet message and please give my warmest regards to your father. I am on my way to Birmingham for a series of shows in November (November 23-30th). Please keep an eye out for posters in your city or on my website in the “Whereabouts”section for details of the shows coming soon. Perhaps we will have the chance to meet!


  15. Hadjra

    Salaams again uncle,

    Thank you for replying back to me you’ve made my day:) I’m so happy that your coming to Birmingham!!! I would love to see you at your shows but I’m in Kuwait at the moment until June 2014. It would be a delight to meet you uncle but probably next year 2014 when its written. But i will definitely keep up to date with your lovely posts and events uncle.

    P.S Fingers crossed for next year so i can attend your shows and meet you and get you autograph:)

    Your Fan Hadjra

  16. Salams dear brother,

    Thank you for your kind message and questions about the song “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind”, included on the CD compilation “Light Upon Light” I produced back in 1999. The song was co-written with my dear friend Jawad Jafry, who penned the lyrics ~ requesting me to compose the melody. With the exception of perhaps two or three lines, the words are primarily Jawad’s.

    We developed the song for a documentary entitled “The Orphan Masjid’s of Kosova” which both Jawad and I helped produce in 1998, as a response to the horrible atrocities carried out in Kosova between 1996 and 1998. To my knowledge the documentary is no longer in commercial circulation anywhere, though scenes from it are on Youtube, with our song is still available on iTunes here.

    Both Jawad and I were horrified at the footage we saw from Kosova ~ the discoveries of mass graves, the rubble of towns, villages, homes and places of prayer. “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” was Jawad’s poetic outpouring on behalf of the people of Kosova ~ a plea to the world for humanitarian aid, emotional support and the rebuilding of places of worship.

    “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind”
    Words: J. Jafry
    Music: D. Wharnsby

    Well here we are, shattered like our homes.
    Well here we are, frightened and alone
    And we’ve returned to a land of fear,
    Holding back the images and tears.

    But where are those who understand the pain
    To teach us truth ~ to live in hope again?
    The guns have stopped
    But horrors still the same.
    They give us food but our thirsty souls remain.
    Do you hear the call of the adhan?
    Is this for me? Please help me understand.

    Well here we are ~ out of sight and out of mind.
    Well there you are. Won’t you be so kind
    And say a prayer for the future of Islam?
    They spilled our blood because of our iman.
    Who will build these houses of Allah?
    Who’ll help erase, the evil that we saw?

    Come stand with us. A day will surely come
    When our jihad brings hope to everyone.
    Here we are, struggling to survive.
    Yes here we are, wounded but alive.
    Do you hear the call of the adhan?
    Is this for me? Please help me understand.
    Well here we are, hoping day and night
    That you’ll respond
    Although we’re out of sight.

  17. Afifa Darabuddin

    Praise and thanks belong to Allah.
    Salah and salam be on Muhammad.

    Salaamun alay ka Dawud Wharnsby.

    Jaza ka Allahu khairan. I am grateful to Allah of the Signs of His Majesty I can learn through your blog. Allahu akbar. He is greater than everything we want.

    Ad Deenu Naseehah. The religion is sincere advising.

    There may be Zakat on the bee colony producing honey. May Allah grant us understanding of His religion. Amen.




    And there is a hadith on how Allah responds to curing the illness through honey: http://sunnah.com/urn/673850

    Thank Allah.

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