Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Saga of the Bees

When we got back from our trip and I inspected the hive, the bees were rather aggressive. This was unusual and worrisome. I reached out to the beekeeping community for help, got some advice, and tried to follow it. Then I made a mistake.

What happened was two weeks ago I went to change the feeder. In my horseback riding clothes. Apparently one should not smell like a large animal when visiting a beehive. Well, as soon as I opened the hive they went straight for me. I was wearing my gloves and veil but not the full suit and they stung me through my clothes. A lot. It was terrible. I managed to get the hive closed and run away. That night my husband asked me to get rid of the hive and I agreed. The next day I spoke with a professional beekeeper who suggested that it was likely that their aggression was due to several mistakes of mine that were compounding. She agreed to come to the house and inspect them with me and help me decide what to do with them. That was today. In the interim, she advised, stay away and let them cool down.

That was something I was more than willing to do. Being stung over twenty times is not something I was looking forward to repeating! In the interim, we decided that if they could be salvaged I would at least host them for a while longer until I decided whether I wanted to keep them long term.

This morning she came out and we were joined by another beekeeper who has a few empty top bar hives and was looking for more bees. He's been part of the conversation ever since I split the colony back in June. The three of us, using a smoker and taking our time, inspected both the hive and the nuc colony. And it was the most pleasant experience I've had with them, ever!

First of all, they both have queens. Who were super easy to spot. If you are an experienced professional, that is! So Beatrix and Beeulah are both alive. Secondly, the hive is badly cross-combed but it is too late in the season to fix that. It might be doable to fix them in the spring. Both colonies have some honey and both need to be fed. Those are the main issues. I'm to do exactly what I did last fall in order to overwinter them: feed a lot, make fondant boards, and hope for the best.

The other beekeeper will be back tomorrow evening and he will take the nuc colony to his yard. He will bring back the nuc box when he figures out how to transfer them to his hive.

Sting count (today): 0
Total sting count: 30.

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