I have a good friend named Kat who I’ve known since the fourth grade. We’ve stuck together for years, and shared adventures, hobbies, and had a lot of fun. Naturally, I wanted to show her my new bees, and she was excited to see them. So when I got some new pollen patties in the mail, I called her up, and asked if she’d like to take a quick look in the hive when I put a patty inside. Being the awesome friend that she is, she dropped what she was doing and jumped in the car. Unfortunately, I made several mistakes that led to Kat getting stung on her first real visit to the bee hive. Oops!
Here’s what happened. I called Kat after work, (about 5pm) and the sun was shining, though it was likely to rain later, and the wind was starting to pick up. We went down to the bee hive, talking excitedly about what was going on with the colony, and the garden, and I popped on my veil and gloves, lit my smoker, and lifted the lid. Clouds were gathering by this point, the wind was picking up, and it was getting quite a bit cooler. I pulled the hive open, and Kat leaned over to take a look, both of us still talking excitedly, and moving fairly quickly. I put the frame perch on the side of the hive, pulled out a frame and showed it to her, then reached for another one as a few bees bounced around, seeming a bit agitated by the disturbance. That’s about the time Kat said “ouch!” and backed away from the hive in a big hurry.
A bee had gotten annoyed with all the disturbance, and stung her right on the forehead. Fortunately, we’d talked about what to do if a bee stings you, and she got well away from the hive, and was able to scrape the stinger out. I went over and checked to be sure it was out and that she was (mostly) okay, and put the frames back, then closed up the hive.
I made several mistakes here, and I’ll let you know what they were.
- I chose a bad time of day. The best time to work with a hive is mid-afternoon, when a lot of them will be gone getting nectar and pollen. Waiting until evening isn’t the best idea.
- The weather wasn’t great. Bees are really sensitive to the weather, and don’t appreciate having their hive open when it’s overcast or rainy. The best beekeeping weather is a hot, sunny day.
- Moving and talking too much. Honey bees are usually calm animals, but they don’t enjoy being disturbed, and having loud, fast-moving giants invade their home is worse than having quiet, considerate giants take a look. If we had been quieter and calmer, it’s likely Kat wouldn’t have been stung.
- You might think that not having Kat wear a bee suit was a mistake. However, we’ve had a lot of visitors to this hive since it was installed in April, and Kat’s the only one to get stung so far. Nobody except me has worn a bee suit, and some people have gotten closer than Kat did, and so far, she’s the only one who’s been stung.
I did buy her a cup of coffee afterward, and she seems to have totally forgiven me and my bees for the sting. She’s even come back to look at the bees a few times, and had a lot of fun.
Sorry again Kat, and thanks for being such a good sport!
Coming soon: All about stings.