Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bee story

Stick with me to the end of this post, for a funny story.

Sunday, my brother and I set out to change the bee hive around a little. See here for how it used to look, with the honey super on top and the brood box on bottom. I went to a local bee meeting last week with lots of questions about my bees, the drought this summer, and the lack of honey. Turns out we were doing a couple things wrong:
1. The queen excluder should only be used if there are intentions of harvesting honey. Since it was so dry this year, this was our first year with bees, and the bees haven't stored anything in the super yet, we took the excluder off.
2. Because we had a drought this summer, I shouldn't have stopped feeding sugar water. Especially since we wouldn't be able to harvest honey for human consumption this year, we should have kept feeding the bees all summer so they would store up food for themselves to last through winter. If we were storing honey for humans to eat, we wouldn't want the bees to use sugar water, we'd want them to use nectar.

I added sugar water to their quart jar on Sunday, and have a gallon jug of it in my fridge ready for refilling.

The advice from the other beekeepers was to put the super on the bottom. This is because the bees were up exploring in the super, but not storing any pollen or nectar. If they have to go through the super to get to the brood box, they may be more likely to store in it.

So, time for the funny story. 

Sunday, I asked my brother to help with the bees. The brood box can be rather heavy when it is full of bees, brood, and honey and I thought an extra hand would be helpful. I grabbed the "hive tools" which for us consist of a bee brush, a metal putty knife and a flat screw driver. I also grabbed a spray bottle of sugar water and gave my brother the smoker and a lighter. Sunday was a little overcast, because we finally got rain, which was residual of the recent hurricane. I usually use sugar water spray to calm the bees when I am looking at them, but a lot of beekeepers use a smoker; I wasn't sure which we would need.

I removed the concrete block, outer and inner covers, and honey super and set them aside. Then I was working on removing the queen excluder, and removing the brood box (the deeper box) from the hive base. I was in my bee garb - long sleeves, long pants, solid toe shoes, elbow length gloves, and my hat with the head netting. My brother had on a baseball cap, jeans, cowboy boots and a long sleeve t-shirt, only because I convinced him that jersey shorts and cowboy boots were not proper attire...

I was leaning over and prying, and a bee got stuck in the folds of my netting. I couldn't tell if it was inside the netting or not, so I asked my brother to take a look at it. He turned to look and the bee flew out of the netting and into his baseball cap. My brother has long hair that is rather curly, that he wads up in a bun and puts in his baseball cap. He took off running toward the middle of the garden, yelling something incoherent like "there's a bee in my hair", threw the smoker and his hat, and started rolling around in the grass. Like "stop, drop and roll" rolling in the grass. I ended up rearranging everything without his help and putting the hive all back together, while trying not to laugh at my brother... I'm thankful neither of us were stung because the bees were not in a good mood after his yelling and flailing!

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