The girls and I had a little spat the other night. They say that when a bee stings, you are to remain calm. Bees get very excited by sudden movements. Use your hive tool to gently scrape the stinger from your skin. This prevents the pheromones from being released. Then smoke the area where you were stung to mask any pheromones that have been released. When pheromones are released, other bees are alerted that an attacker is threatening their hive, and everyone is called out immediately to participate in the sting fest.
Honey bees sting for one reason…that is to protect their hive. That’s why swarms are so docile, they have no hive to protect. And it is true that a honeybee will sting only once, and then will die.
Up to this point, I have not been stung. I knew the time would come, but it’s not something you’re ever prepared for. One evening I went up to change the feeder buckets. Never have I worn gear to change feeder buckets. Green Hive 1 is a nice gentle hive. They don’t pay much attention. I get in, do my business, and get out. It’s all good. But over the last 2 weeks, I noticed growing irritability in Yellow Hive 2 (YH2). Perhaps they’re still scarred by memories of dead bee parts hanging out from between the boxes after one of my recent inspections. Perhaps they recall spending 2 days walking the sides in attempt to scrape off the remains. Whatever it was, they wasted no time buzzing into my hair and onto my face. I felt one, two, three, maybe four stings across the bottom of my face. Then a shot of pain on top of my head.
There was no warning, and there was certainly no remaining calm or gentle removal of stings from my skin. Feeder buckets dropped. I was dancing the honey bee jive baby! Hands swatting through my hair and feet running and jumping into the neighbors’ pine trees.
When the excitement was over, I walked down to the patio where the hubster was pushing some heavy, loud gas-powered device. My hair was disheveled, my chin was puffy and my head was sore. I had been told by the bees.
I knew it would happen, I was now a real beekeeper. The stings died down pretty fast. What hurt more were my feelings. My girls turned on me. They told me to get out, be gone. Didn’t they realize I lose sleep at night worrying about them? I worry about them swarming off and leaving me. I listen to YouTube round the clock so I’ll know how to take the best care of them. And I haven’t even gotten any honey yet. I felt angry, betrayed. For a short time, they weren’t my Boo Bees. They were “those little SOBees”.
I went back up, this time in full upper gear, to finish feeding the little ingrates. They began buzzing around again, but this time I was in charge.
Last night I walked up to fill the PVC ant cups. Again,YH2 started buzzing at me. I read that bee temperaments are driven by the queen, as is pretty much everything in a hive. That replacing the queen with a gentler new queen can help settle their little bee butts down. I won’t be replacing any queens. I doubt I could find her if I wanted to. I will, however, take heed and dress a little more appropriately for work around the hive. At the very least, I’ll wear a hat.