Wednesday, July 30, 2014

About Those Bees....

I posted an update a couple of weeks ago with pictures of what is going on around the homestead.  When I posted the link on Facebook a friend asked about the bees.  It's a sad and painful (literally) story. 

I have detailed the steps in this post, so I won't go through all the process again but it was quite involved.  Going through all those steps on a hot day in blue jeans, long sleeved shirt, long gloves, work boots, and a veil over your face, is challenging.  Try getting a good look at your frames through the mesh of the veil with sweat  perspiration "glow" dripping into your eyes.  Hold on; we're getting to what the sweat perspiration "glow" does.

In late March/early April, I realized that I needed to get into the hives.  It had been a long and difficult winter.  I had been feeding the bees with sugar water, but I had not inspected things for far too long.  I had already lost a large number of bees to swarming (we lost a total of three swarms).  I went out and started the process.  I don't know if it was the sweat perspiration "glow", or if I got some honey on my veil, or exactly what happened, but suddenly there were some bees inside my veil.  They liked being there even less than I liked having them there.  Before I knew what was happening, I had two bee stings inside one ear and three more on my face.  There was yelling involved.  I am a stubborn, red-headed Reed and I refused to let them beat me completely.  I stomped back out there fussing about "stupid apis mellifera" and managed to get everything put back together.  Then I went inside and fumed for a while.  It took a while for those stings to recover.  I developed some mild cellulitis in the ones on my cheek and nose.  The ones inside the ear canal hurt for too long. 

A few weeks later, still of the mind that no stinkin' bees were going to get the best of me! I suited up and went out to do a more thorough check.  I got the two tops off the hive and without any warning I suddenly had three stings on my arm above my glove and several bees trying to get inside the (clean) veil.  This time the stings took two weeks for the swelling to go down.  That, my friends, is an escalating reaction.  And that is "not-worth-the-risk". 

I hated to do it.  We put a lot of time, energy and money into this project.  I had hoped that having our own honey would 1. help Mr. Marvelous with his allergies and 2. eventually turn into something of a cash crop.  I did not want to give up but I did not want to risk developing an anaphylactic reaction.  I was talking one day to a good friend and she reminded me of the risk of anaphylaxis.  She's been through it herself.  She urged me to let go of the project.  Still, it was hard to make up my mind to quit at something.  A few days later I was talking to another friend and she gave me the gift of these words: "Some projects just aren't for us.  You don't have to be able to do everything.  Sometimes it's OK to accept a project as a learning experience and let go of it."

I called our neighbor who had gotten us started to see if he wanted the bees to add to his yard.  He didn't.  I discovered that another local bee-keeper had lost most of his bees over the winter.  I called him and talked to him and he came over with his padawan late one evening and they removed the hives. 

So the bees have a new home.  Our local bee-keeping society has some gently used equipment.  Mr. Marvelous has some of his garden back, and I have a bit of honey in the pantry.

I also learned some valuable lessons along the way; specifically, I'm not a bee-keeper!

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