The Lawnmower Test

May 22, 2013

Lawnmower approaches bees

I really never had any fears about handling the bees. That part is exciting and fascinating and so cool. But one thing that did concern me was mowing the lawn. You see, bees don’t like loud noises or strong smells. And one of my weekly tasks just happens to involve pushing a very loud and stinky lawnmower within several feet of the hives.

Stories were told in my bee class about unsuspecting spouses or neighbors getting stung while mowing, and others said they wear full bee garb when they mow. Most have their own methods, like mowing the bee area first and doing it as quickly as possible. And then there are those who have never had an issue and said it depends on the personality of the bees. That’s the group I wanted to be in, since I have no interest in wearing a full jacket, veil and gloves to mow the lawn in peak summer heat.

The inevitable day did finally come when I had to do my part of the lawn. The hubster had ridden past them a few times on the riding mower and had no problem. So I decided to risk it and wear my usual t-shirt and shorts.

I started at one end of the tree line and gradually worked my way up toward the bees. I could see them out and actively buzzing around the hives. Within 10 feet, I decided to alter my route by mowing all the way around the garden so I could approach them from behind.

I moved toward them, closer and closer, expecting that, at any moment the guard bees would release their pheromones, beckoning the hive to full on attack the creature behind the big, loud, smelly machine. I worked fast.  Two or three buzzed past my head, but that was it. I made it past without incident.

I decided to push my luck and attempt to mow another section on the opposite side.  Again, they didn’t seem interested.  A nice little beard was formed on the front of the green hive and they didn’t move. So I mowed in front of the hives.  I’d gone full circle and they didn’t care.

This was an excellent discovery, indeed!  All that worry for nothing, and I wouldn’t be the neighborhood freak mowing the lawn in 90 degree weather dressed in a full bee suit. Even better, it meant that my bees are easy going and not excitable or irritable. Just the way I like my people! I can only hope this personality trait will translate to future generations, as bees turnover every 6 months. So I’ll be doing the lawnmower test again with an entirely new colony for next year’s mowing season.

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