?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Bee calm, bee cool - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Bee calm, bee cool [May. 3rd, 2011|03:40 pm]
Zoethe
[Tags|]

I'll make a confession: I'm pretty scared of bees. I'm okay walking around the hive and having them bopping around me, but when I have to actually approach the hive and do something with the bees, I get a bit heart-in-throat. I've gotten pretty good at changing out the feeder - partially because we realized that there was a leak in the base and it was dribbling out and causing us to refill more often. (Repair has been effected.) But since the installation of the bees, we hadn't gone back into the hive.

That had to change. When we got home from Penguicon on Sunday, we had planned to open the hive in order to make sure the queen had escaped her cage (queens have to be introduced slowly or the other bees will kill them). But it was cold and rainy, so we decided to wait for Monday. Monday, however, turned out to be just as cold and rainy, so we put off the hive opening one more day.

Today? Perhaps even worse weather. But it couldn't wait any longer. Because if the queen was dead in the bottom of the queen cage, or hadn't escaped, then our hive would not be filling with new brood and would be falling behind as the season progresses.

The problem with cold, rainy days is that the bees are all at home. The idea behind hive management is that you try to open the hive on a calm, sunny day when most of the inhabitants are out flying and the hive is relatively empty. But looking at the weather forecast, we aren't going to be getting any of those this week. So we waited as long as we could, and in a misty drizzle we ventured forth to open our hive.

There are a lot of firsts involved in this work. First fire in our smoker, which came with no directions. I thought I had it all ready to go when Ferrett suggested I give a couple trial puffs of smoke. Firey bee death shot out the snout of the smoker like the breath of a metal, bee-hating dragon. Yeah, maybe wait a few minutes....

Eventually we headed out into the mist, me bearing the smoker, Ferrett carrying an umbrella. We smoked the hive and took the top off.

I had this fear that we'd find a hive of dead bees. I knew this fear wasn't reasonable - they aren't flying around outside because of the cold and the rain; they're all indoors. But irrational fear isn't about reasonableness, so I was greatly relieved to find masses of buzzing critters.

Then came the alarm - masses of buzzing critters!!! I hope this will fade, but at this point there's still a bit of flight!! reaction upon seeing all those bees. Nevertheless, I took a steadying breath and removed the inner cover. To our tremendous relief, the candy plug in the queen cage was eaten away and the queen was out. I had to remove the queen cage, which meant putting my hands right down by the bees. I admit to being a bit shaky, but I managed it.

The next step is pulling out the frames and finding eggs, but that was not a job for today. Not on a rainy day. I'm hoping the weather will clear and we will be able to check the frames and assure ourselves that eggs are being laid and all is well.

And be a little braver each time.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: call_me_harmony
2011-05-03 07:53 pm (UTC)
That is so impressive. Facing ones fear on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways of overcoming it. :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks - that's what I'm hoping!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: regyt
2011-05-03 07:56 pm (UTC)
It'll fade. You'll totally get used to it! And it'll help a lot once summer really hits, and you see how much calmer they are in beautiful weather during the middle of a nectar flow.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 07:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I want to document all of this so when it's easier I can remember and appreciate.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: monkeyfetus
2011-05-03 11:36 pm (UTC)
very true, those are my favorite times to be working in a hive
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 01:11 am (UTC)
I am happy for all the bee encouragement I can get!!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kyburg
2011-05-03 08:01 pm (UTC)
I got pushed into a hive of bees (I mentioned I live in California, right?) - hollow tree, on the walk home from 7th grade - so I got stung rather well once. Having long hair did not help in the least.

I still wanna know if they were as warm and fuzzy as everyone says. ^^
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 08:04 pm (UTC)
That would definitely be a bitch. Not likely to make one a beekeeper. [shudder]
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: myrrhdusa
2011-05-03 08:15 pm (UTC)
You were very brave! I would have gone off shrieking like a 60's cartoon.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 09:08 pm (UTC)
I didn't even squeak!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2011-05-03 09:09 pm (UTC)
Wow. You're amazing and brave. *They* say the bees can sense when you are agitated, I dunno if it's true. But Wow. Really. Wow.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 09:11 pm (UTC)
They certainly can see sudden, jerky movements and don't like them. So calm and slow is the ticket.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 11:05 pm (UTC)
I promise never to open the hive while you are here visiting.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: celticcowboy68
2011-05-03 11:35 pm (UTC)
And all I can think is that if we don't get to visit the bees when we are around, we shall be sorely put out.

But we're a little strange.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 12:46 am (UTC)
Of course you may visit the bees!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: greybeta
2011-05-03 09:39 pm (UTC)
It's weird researching your fears. The experts may allay one's concerns somewhat, but that doesn't help the warning sirens of "BEE! STING! BEE! STING!" that go off in our heads.

Kudos to you, Mrs. Ferrett, for facing your fears!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-03 11:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm hopeful that my calm will improve.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: corvaxgirl
2011-05-04 12:37 am (UTC)
For some reason, in all my beehive envy of others, it never permeated my brain that fear of bees + bees = a problem. I'm glad you shared because now should I ever get bees I'll remember ahead of time that it may not be smooth sailing!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 01:13 am (UTC)
It's not awful, but it's good to be aware that you will have to handle your reactions. I want to be casually brave, but that's going to take a while.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: miintikwa
2011-05-04 12:58 am (UTC)
That's so cool. :D
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 01:17 am (UTC)
I hope that writing about our bee adventures won't bore people!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: miintikwa
2011-05-04 01:34 am (UTC)
It won't bore me! :D
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: miripanda
2011-05-04 02:38 am (UTC)

Re: The Secret Life Of

...apparently "sending them love" helps :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 02:54 pm (UTC)

Re: The Secret Life Of

Well, then they should be happy lil' buggers. ;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dandelion_diva
2011-05-04 10:40 am (UTC)
Good for you! :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 03:02 pm (UTC)
Love the icon!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ba1126
2011-05-04 01:41 pm (UTC)
Many kudos! That is awesome!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 03:03 pm (UTC)
It looks like we might get sunshine tomorrow!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: treebones
2011-05-04 02:22 pm (UTC)
Woot. (:

And, I'll be picking your brain about this at some point. I'm now living somewhere where having a backyard hive is really feasible, and I *want* one.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 03:05 pm (UTC)
My best initial advice is to find your local beekeeper club and start attending meetings. You're too late to start this season, but it will give you some background and familiarity.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: littlebuhnee
2011-05-04 02:47 pm (UTC)
Eep! You're way braver than I am. :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 03:06 pm (UTC)
I'm working on the bravery!!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2011-05-04 08:06 pm (UTC)
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." -Mark Twain

Seems to me like you're being pretty brave. And no, the bee stories are not boring.

-Alex
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-04 11:52 pm (UTC)
I really have no problem now being out there while they are flying around, so that's already an improvement! And I'm glad to stories aren't boring.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fitfool
2011-05-30 03:51 pm (UTC)
oh wow...I never would've guessed you were afraid of bees if you agreed to be beekeeper. Hooray for facing down fear!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-30 04:10 pm (UTC)
Getting ready to go out there and get into the hive again. Because you're only supposed to do this every couple weeks, it's hard to build up much experience, so every time I have to psych myself up.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)