On Saturday afternoon, March 12th two members of my bee club came by the house to assist me in doing a hive inspection on the new warrior girls, the Red Barn Bees. The two gracious bee'ks were Roberta and Ceebs.
I had been at a High School tea prior to the meet up and arrived home a few minuted late to find both of Roberta and Ceebs standing next to the hive filming the girls. To my surprise neither of them were suited up or being attacked. Cool, I thought, perhaps these warrior bees aren't quite the fierce as I thought. Of all the video footage that was shot this one below is my favorite. Witness my girls flying backwards, as in Backwards Beekeeper, trying to pull out string from their hive.
I quickly suited up and got all the equipment together for Roberta and I started the inspection while Ceebs looked on. We began by gently smoking the hive entrance. Currently this hive is three boxes tall. We removed the top, added a little smoke and observed lots of bees but no new drawn comb as of yet. That box, called a "super", was placed on the ground next to us while we looked into the second box. Again, lots and lots of very busy bees. Roberta started lifting the second super when we noticed the bees begin to get agitated. I noticed that this had been brought on by string pulling up a frame in the first box. Angry buzzing arose, I got stung on the ankle by bees walking on the ground while Roberta was stung through her gloves.
We choose to stop the inspection since the bees had assumed warrior mode. Comically, after swiftly putting everything back in place, the bees decided to chase us. Since we had our suits on it was more just an annoyance than anything else, although upwards of an hour later the girls continued to harass and head butt us. Kidding!
A few lessons were learned here:
- Make sure to tape the bottom of your pants off or use spats that inhibit the bees access to your legs.
- Always remove the stinger from the sting site as soon as possible. Normally I do this and my stings result with minimal discomfort. This time I did not and my ankle swelled up so much I couldn't wear normal shoes for about five days.
- These warrior bees don't like people messing in anyway with their home. Thus, these bees will either be completely left alone or we might split the hive with the intention of breeding a slightly gentler race. I would rather not split them, as I am rather found of their ferocious nature and assume they will fight off local robber bees quite easily.
Image: Honey Bee by Eve Neuhart