Boo and Bees

As many of my friends already know, my adventures in beekeeping have begun. In February I joined the BBA where I met other beekeepers in the area. During the first meeting, I was introduced to several wonderful people who offered to be my mentor.
I decided to check out some hives of an old acquaintance a little over a month ago. Although the gentleman was very kind in taking time to show me his hives, he failed to equip me with a veil or suit to prevent stings. While checking out one hive I accidentally walked in the bees' flight path. This was my first mistake. My second was shampooing my hair with tea tree shampoo. I was under the impression tea tree shampoo repelled bees. This is false. Before I knew what was happening I had bees crawling through my hair and buzzing in my ears. Without thinking I swatted at a bee that landed on my nose and ended up with a nasty sting right on the bridge, between my nostrils. For those who have not experienced the pleasure of having a bee sting you on the nose please allow me to explain what happens as a result. My nose immediately gushed snot and tears streamed down my eyes. I couldn't stop it. While I diligently dabbed at my nose and eyes, my host grabbed at the bees swarming in my hair crunching them in his hands. The buzzing noise was replaced by a crunching noise as bees "met their maker" in my locks. Couple this with pain and the sensation that your nose is swelling and you have an idea of what I was experiencing.
Call me crazy, but a week later I decided to try again. I accompanied another gentleman to a farm located a short distance from our own to observe and assist with the installation of twenty hives. This time, thankfully, I wore a suit, veil and gloves while working with the bees. I have to admit, it can be very intimidating working in a bee yard surrounded by thousands of bees. In order to remain calm I concentrated on each task. Remove brick. Remove hive lid. Remove frames. Spray bee package with sugar water to calm them. Uncork queen cage. Place in the bottom of the hive. Etc. Soon the buzzing of the bees fades to a pleasant background noise.
After observing the installation of nineteen hives, I was able to install one hive all by myself! I am happy to report I didn't make any serious mistakes and the hive seems to be thriving. I was so thrilled with my work I asked my mentor to take a photo of me beside the hive.
After this photo was taken I got my second bee sting while removing my gear. A bee stung me on the palm of my left hand. A word to the wise, if a bee ever stings you do not attempt to remove the stinger with your fingers. Instead take a knife and scrape it across the stinger. I had no idea this was the protocol for removing bee stingers. So, I attempted to remove it with my fingers and Voila! I ended up with the venom sack in my palm. I don't know what is worse, being stung on the nose or the palm. I could barely make a fist for two days.
Last week we returned to the bee yard to check the hives. Although a few had some problems most of them seemed to be doing alright. I was able to see pollen, nectar, larvae and brood in the cells. I also saw a queen lay an egg. It was really cool! And, I didn't get stung! The key, I believe, is waiting until you are far removed from the bee yard before removing your gear.
I am not certain when I will return to the bee yard but I am hoping it will be sometime this week. Either way, this aspiring apiarist hopes to remain sting-free for the rest of bee season.

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1 comments:

lisapants said...

Very cool! I hope your stings heal quickly.

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