Tim Lowe sent me the following as a reply to a recent e-mail. I thought I'd share it with you all to highlight the hardcore nature of our gentle looking pursuit:
Bit of an update.
Split my older hive Thursday into two boxes and then put them both into an older hive here at home. That makes 3 hives on the go.
Got a call friday evening from my uncle who hosts one of my hives in his orchard. He says a pile of bees have been under a tree for most of the day. Aunt has only just told him about them!! Wizzed over and collected the bees, and the bulk of the swarm at chest height in the apple tree above them that they had completely failed to notice!! Checked under the hive (it is open bottomed after all) and saw a couple of swarm cells. So opened up the hive and took out two combs each with swarm cells on them. Also took out a couple of brood comb, put them into a box and high tailed it to where I keep my hive in the village at home. But god they were stroppy. Found my suit leaks bees at the throat and have got at least six stings there. I'm going to look funny for the rest of the weekend. Couple of stings at the temple as well, on a wrist and back of leg too. Not a good session.
Back in the village I split the queen called comb between two 5 comb boxes, broke into the large hive for a couple of comb of stores to top them up over this bad weather and left them there with the main swarm to keep them company. Hope they drown!! No really hope that I don't have to requeen them because of their temper. Hoping it is a combination of swarming, wind, rain, queens hatching, and being unable to fly when they need to. We'll see. More stings at the throat.
Any way, I now have to quickly make 3 hives to fit them into. So, I've got 2 more flowerpot boxes for swarms (currently out as bait boxes) that I could use if we need to. Then that's it at the moment. Let me know if you need me.
I'll certainly see you on Wednesday, if I can see over my throat!!
All the best,
Sounds horrific I know but circumstance and what I now know to be a design flaw in my suit were contributory factors (what is that about workmen and tools?).ReplyDelete
The weather was windy and drizzling with heavier rain pending. The bees had just swarmed and with more unmatched swarm cells it was clear that a virgin queen was working through the hive trying to make sure that all other queen cells had been destroyed. It was late as well. For me to go through a hive to find undamaged queen cells and comb with stores in to go with them was asking for trouble. They went mad. Who wouldn't?
Now, my bee suit has a design where three zips come together at the throat. There is a flap that then velcros over the top to supposedly seal off any gaps. However, it doesn't as I found out. The Velcro actually created three separate tunnels along the zips that were an ideal size for the bees to crawl down into the suit. The first bit of me they could get at, my throat, they stung. I've counted 8 stings there. Major swelling for 24 hours and then 24 hours of itching and redness. Portion and antihistamine cream helps greatly.
On the upside I now have another 3 colonies. I checked them this afternoon and all seem settled in their temporary homes. I just have to build 3 hives in a hurry. Harlows of Long Watton were able to supply the wood, 4" tongue and groove flooring for the walls and 6.5" X 18mm to be ripped down for the top bars. 4" bolts for the legs. Everything else should come off the scrap pile. Roof will be a scrap piece of ply. Works out at £25 per hive. My most expensive so far by a long way but time is of the essence.
Lessons: check you have a bee tight suit. Build your hives early. Always have a swarm box empty. Have enough top bars to seal your swarm box. But most of all wash your bee suit often to remove the pheromones given off when bees sting.
It's not as bad as it sounded. All experience to make us better at what we do.