Wednesday, working my second cut-out with The Bartlett Bee Whisperer, I learned that working with honeybees involves some risks. Besides the obvious risk of being stung, there are some “workplace hazards” one might not immediately think of.
The call came from John Cook. The front area around his house had been invaded by some of nature’s best and some of nature’s worst. John’s attempts to clear the scourge of poison ivy from his front yard had been thwarted by honeybees, who had chosen the wrong home: behind the house’s wood siding.
Poison ivy is a very real workplace hazard for me, as I am very allergic! The Whisperer quickly removed the poison ivy near the hive (as I gladly watched from a distance), and pulled the siding from around the hive. Beneath the tiny hole in the picture above we found the second “hazard”…
The pungent smell of rotting hive! John had attempted to discourage the bees, by using pesticide… Though the old hive eventually died out and was overrun with small hive beetles, another group of bees moved in right beside it! Or the surviving bees from the first colony moved one stud left! The honey left in the old hive fermented, reminding me of a winery I once toured at the Biltmore Estate. I will never forget that smell!
In very short order, we had the bees vacuumed up and the nasty comb thrown away.
Though the bees hadn’t meant to be a nuisance, they had found themselves between a man and his yardwork – not a good place to be! The bees are now in a new, far more welcoming home!
Because there was no queen in this colony, they were added to an existing colony to strengthen their numbers. A sheet of newspaper was placed between the 2 boxes (and the 2 groups of bees). By the time the bees chew trough the paper their pheromones will have mixed enough for them to think they are all the same family.
After relocating this hive, we might have driven off into the sunset, leaving the bees to their happily-ever-after… but what is a day in the life of a beekeeper without a little risk?
The Whisperer wanted to check on one last hive… one that he said was more aggressive than most. Within a couple minutes of opening the hive, a hurricane of bees formed around our heads. Oh, and he had used his smoker to calm them down! Suddenly – ZAP! Pain shot through my leg.
I got stung! This being the most obvious “workplace hazard” for a beekeper, I knew it would happen – but I hadn’t expected it at that moment. I mean, a little warning would have been appreciated. Oh well. The good news is that the pain quickly subsided and no swelling occurred! Apparently I’m not allergic! Maybe it was the Benadryl The Whisperer threw to me.
Even better, I have no poison ivy rashes! Sure, beekeeping comes with its hazards. But with a little care taken, it is well worth the risk!