Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm no expert, so I asked for directions

So just what I said! I am at a loss. After my last post I was stung two more times, once right in the face! Luckily I the reaction wasn't as bad as my leg. I have one sting on my arm right now that is very itchy! It's been really really hot here, and my bees have been very aggressive. I am just too new at this to know what to do, I'm still feeding them, as they are still taking the food. I don't know the level of flow right now here, I have a huge garden and berry bushes, all blooming, but pollen is not nectar! I just don't know! I'm way too green! I belong to a couple of bee keeping boards, one of which is I put out a call for some info. I got a lot! Whew! I also put in a call to Tim, who I got my bees from, as I know if anyone knows, he will know about MY bees. He gave me some great advice! So, things are gonna change around here with the bees.
Here's what I learned today.
1) They could be more aggressive because the queen is dead. (I don't think this is the case, but need to do a full inspection to check for day old larvae)
2) They could be agitated because of predators, again, don't think so because I have 3 cats in the back yard, who keep out visitors, I have also seen no evidence of anything messing with the hive, even though I have vented it.
3) I NEED TO SMOKE MY BEES! I didn't want to, but let's face it, the a'natural way isn't really working out
4) Smoking the bees won't hurt them
5) I need a top feeder, the front feeder is too hard to deal with and they keep "glueing" it to the hive with propolis
6) I need to work my bees during the day, during the heat of the day when most of them are out foraging
7) being a little afraid is HEALTHY!
8) I will likely wear more protection, ie, pants when I work the hive
9) my hive has doubled (at least!) in size and it was easier to work when it was half the size, so I was more "confident" now, I need to learn more!
10) I probably should join a bee club, although I'm not that social....

So that's what I learned today. I need to do an inspection, but before I do I ordered a smoker and some new vented gloves. Likely I will also get a new white jacket for working the hive, as my white one now is just worn out and the zipper is shot, I've been wearing my light green one, but I am not sure the bees love the bright colors. It's a learning process!
After I inspect the hive I will give Tim a call back and discuss some findings with him, I shall report back.
I have to admit, I feel somewhat defeated that I couldn't do it all by myself, but I realize that I am learning and everyone needs help! I want to do right by my bees and make sure that my hive thrives, so I won't be afraid to ask for help! In the meantime, here is a picture of my hive last night, it's clear my bees are HOT this is an example of bearding. They were dripping out of the hive. Actually, pretty cool.

I'll keep ya posted!


  1. It's the heat. It was fine before this heat. We are hosting six hives at our place and we have to replace 3 to 6 of the feeder jars every day. Normally we do this early in the morning when the bees aren't active, but it's been HOT and they are active at 5:30 am in the morning when it is already 65 F.
    The jars fit too tightly in the wooden feeder, which meant the feeder and hive got jostled when removing the jar. My spouse hand sanded the round opening in the wooden part and now the jars slide in and out easily without jostling the hive and angering the bees who probably thought we were big bears rattling their hive. Also, we punched holes in more lids and just swap jars rather than change lids on jars right in front of the hive.
    After being stung we are now much more covered up when feeding the bees. If they are too active/aggressive, we don't smoke them, we just spritz them with plain water and they go back inside, thinking it's raining. We tried sugar water, but that caused them to come out - probably after the sweetness. But when the hive owner comes out and does an inspection, he smokes them.
    The hives in our yard get shade from mid morning until late afternoon. I think it helps a bit, but they are bearding pretty good now too.

  2. I am going to change up a few things on my hive now too, and smoke is among them. Those are Greg's bees on your property right? I thought he also didn't use much smoke, be that as it may, I'm 2 stings in again today just from being in the garden and feeding. I'm changing up the feeder to the top kind and I ordered a smoker and some new gloves. I may get a white jacket as well. Can you stand this heat?!

  3. Your right, Greg doesn't normally use smoke, but with all this heat the bees have been a lot crankier than normal. This was the first time I've seen him use smoke and get all suited up. Still, the cloud of bees around him was enormous. These hives are all wild caught bees and at least one hive is kinda aggressive. If you're interested, I took pictures of him doing the inspection of the hives and posted them here:
    beekeeper inspects his hives

    No, I can't stand this heat. I've ordered a cooling vest - it has flexible ice packs to keep the body cool. I have MS so I have to keep somewhat cool. I don't think the bees can stand this heat either. Last time he was here, Greg put a rock under each hive lid to raise it a bit and allow some more air flow.