First Stings of Beekeeping — Not Pleasant

Evening Y’all! So I became a beekeeper this year along with my mother and brother at times. He is more of the kickass photographer that we hope to share his shots with the world. But since we got our bees on the first night of Peasach I have been dealing with the bees. Read all about it here. It’s quiet the story and she too got stung….. a lot so I have been dealing with the bees. Usually with a lot of success and luck. We have been super fortunate that our 2 hives of bees are totally tame and beautiful creatures.

But today was a different day. On this July 15th, 2016 started off good with my bees. I was checking them for mites (for the first time EVER) and it didn’t go super smoothly but I did it…. kind of. This website showed us how to do this mite process. Pretty much you kill 300 bees to see if there are any mites. How you kill them feels a bit inhumane. You have to use rubbing alcohol, which I noticed isn’t an instantaneous death, sadly. But if you see mites you have to treat ASAP. So as I was doing the “shake” unsuccessful and turned the shaker upside down and as I was doing that I noticed rubbing alcohol spilled all over my gloves. I was like, “What the heck was that!”

After a quick investigation I noticed there was a crack in the seam of the bottle. I went to my car cleaned up my gloves and went back to work on closing up my bee hive. During this time another fellow beekeeper came to check on his hives. He was only there for a minute but I guess he checked on what he needed too.

The problem was though that my bees weren’t having any of that closing up the hive business. Over these 3 months I have learned to understand my bees a bit and am understanding that when someone farts around there home they may go at you with some force to the face — which is projected by my vail. Then they bounce off and go about their business. But today they came at me with full force and something about it was off… They were lot more aggressive and really going at me. Next time I know I feel bees on my legs and a sharp pain. One second it’s one and then another close by and then I felt a third pinch on my calf. I dropped the box I was holding in my hand and ran as fast as I could out of the beehive area and into the parking lot. Dropping my cellphone in the process and leaving my smoker behind, which is actually a must have thing when you get stung. You need it to smoke the area where you got stung.

Reason I ran as fast as I could out of the garden was because I was hoping that beekeeper hasn’t left and I could use his phone to call my mother and tell her to bring me pants. Also I might want to just mention this TINY fact: His bees and mine aren’t the only ones at this place – there are like 13 more (hives), so I didn’t want to find out how many bees could potentially sense the venom in my leg and want to go to that spot. That’s too many bees for my liking.

I’m also thinking you might be asking yourself why would a beekeeper need pants don’t they work in pants? That would be a no! Not this guy. During the summer heat I have been going out and working in shorts, my bee jacket and gloves. As I’m on the phone with my mother this nice guy was helping me check myself. We saw 3 bee stings – 1 had the stinger in that he took out, 1 had nothing and the last one that was on my calf, which was the most painful of the 3 didn’t have anything but a gaping whole. Which we deduced was there because I think I ripped the be and his stinger right out of my calf in one fell swoop. (Let me tell you after 8 hours I am feeling the pain. OUCHIE!)

So we did some cleaning up of my leg and off he went. Shortly after he left I was able to think clearly and I remembered that bees don’t like perfume or cologne. (Which is a side note for everyone. Don’t wear those things when working with bees. **hint hint**) What do those things have in common with what I was doing today? . . . . . If you didn’t guess it right away I know you’d have said, “Alcohol.”

I’d reply, “Dam right!”

Bees really don’t like alcohol. As my mother and I later discussed on the way to our beekeepers meeting, they probably know that it signals death and they freak out. That’s exactly what they did when they smelled the alcohol on my gloves. So when my mother came to the rescue with pants we had to go right back home because I needed a new pair of gloves so that I couldn’t finish up with the bees. They weren’t closed and needed to be covered for the day. As they say, “When you fall off a horse, get back in the saddle”! Which I did. I got my new alcohol free gloves and went to work closing up my hive. And guess what…… I was right. The bees where back to being their tame awesome selves.

Lessons learned:
1. Don’t get alcohol on your gloves because you will feel the wrath of the all mighty honey bee!
2. Have a bee sting kit on the ready — which I will now have to make and bring with me just in case
3. Find out if you are allergic to be stings before you work with bees. (Tonight I found out that I’m not allergic… just in a super painful way I am finding out.) Mama Wei didn’t want to tell me but the soreness I am feeling can last a while. My lower right leg feels like it’s lead.
4. Make sure you know how to best get rid of bee stings!! This should be like 1A I know but oh well it’s still a learned lesson.

So please be mindful of what you may have on you when working with bees. I found out the hard way why alcohol is a big no-no around bees. It’s not a pretty site! I’m just happy I had help. When this happened to me I at least had help. As you will read in my mothers post she was all by herself. I don’t know how she did it, but I can tell you it did traumatise her a bit. She hasn’t really gotten near the bees since. I don’t blame her but she’s gotta just get to know them and they will get to know her. I doubt it’s even the same bees that attacked her.

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