Adventures in Beekeeping
Updated: Aug 14
I've been trying to raise bees. I bought 2 hives from Jay Gilmer Farms back in late July. He provided lessons the week before I brought my hives home. During the lesson, this extremely-bug-averse human worked with the bees without gloves (but with a veil and bee suit). I put my hand down on a frame so that I could feel the bees buzzing right against my hand. I let them walk on my hand.
Fast forward 2 weeks. I had 2 hives right in my own bee yard. My first challenge was ... ANTS! They drank the sugar water that I use to supplement the bees' food. And, they tried to invade the hive. My bees valiantly fought them back. But I could tell they were stressed about this invasion. Several people recommended that I paint the legs of my bee stand with used motor oil. That worked! No more ants. I also tried several things to kill close-by anthills. I finally resorted to chemicals. Not happy about it, but it worked.
You should "work" a hive every 2 weeks. "Working" involves pulling each frame out and observing the various stages of the bee life cycle and food storage cycle (aka honey production cycle). That way you know that your hive is healthy. Hopefully, you'll get a visual on your queen. But if you don't, you can still ascertain her presence by finding larvae (larvae hatch within 3 days, so you know she's BEEN there recently).
So, fast forward 2 more weeks. I've been trying to work my bees. They don't like me. I'm clumsy in my gloves. I haven't had the courage to work with bare hands like I did with my mentor by my side. Later, I learn that I'm also dropping my hive tool roughly on the bench a lot. Note to self: bees feel EVERY bump and vibration of their hives!
So, my awesome mentor trades a hive for my "hot" hive. And, I get back to novice beekeeping. But, after getting my second hive about half-worked one day, trauma hits. I have 2 bees INSIDE my veil. I let out a guttural scream (later, I describe this to my husband as both anger and terror.) And, my husband comes running - but stays a respectful distance away. He's not sure about bees yet.
Second note to self: I've now had 4 stings since I started beekeeping. All but one was because the bee got caught in my hair. I now braid my hair and keep it covered by a bandana and a hat inside my veil. (I've only had a bee inside my veil one time. The other times I got stung were when I took my veil off too soon.)
After the traumatizing event, I called my mentor and asked him to come over and work my bees with me. Life got in the way, but we finally did that yesterday. This happened:
I'm a happy beekeper again!