Bee Adventures


One thing we don't discuss much from the farm  whether that's on social media or on a tour is the beehives. Although they may appear to be an afterthought they are pertinent to every part of what we do. From wild blackberries, and garden veggies to clover in the pastures. There isn't a whole lot we do with the bees through the winter months but on a "warm" day I try to peek in and give them another winter patty if they don't have enough honey stored to make it through the winter. (I typically offer them regardless because if they don't need them they won't eat them.) I had done a routine "peek" in  mid-December and was anxious to check on them after these cold temperatures to make sure they still had food and were faring alright. So on Tuesday the forecast was in the 40's and I took what appeared to be my best chance. Now typically, in summer months I'll wear my full suit but in weeks prior there had been very little activity and so I had opted for warmth and went with my regular winter chore clothes (flannel lined work pants and a hoodie) along with my gloves and veil for extra protection. It had worked splendid keeping me warmer than the suit would have and still offering plenty of protection. One thing I forgot was it was only in the 30's during my previous check-in. And so this afternoon I slogged out rather chipper and strode boldly up to my first hive. I lifted the lid off to see lots of bees peering through the hole in the inner cover. I slid my hive tool under the inner cover and pryed it up. With a loud crack and jolt it was freed from the outside of the deep box and I lifted it off and wet it aside. There were a lot more bees in the top of the box than last month. A great sign, but simultaneously as I was lifting off the cover at least 5 darted toward me extremely unhappy about my little visit I had planned. And so as usual I backed off and began walking through the yard to let them calm down a little bit and hopefully they would fly back to the hive and settle down. So after a few moments with only about 3 still buzzing around my veil my impatience got the best of me and I walked a little less bravely back up to the hive. I set the fresh patty in as bees were angrily buzzing all around my head. Then it hit me. On the right side of my neck the smallest prick which then begins to burn. I took off across the yard wondering how many assassins these ungrateful bees had now recruited. Almost back to the garage I felt it. A tiny little insect walking up my back between my shoulders. Beginning to sweat, begging the bee not to sting me and praying more fervently than ever before I called out to me friend who was helping me that she had to help me get my sweatshirt off as there was at least one bee in there. We were eventually able to fin-angle her out without crushing her. But another had gotten stuck and in the process of trying to peel my sweatshirt off she stung me right in the armpit of all places. Now both stings are burning like crazy and I'm unsure how many other bees could still be on the attack. Throwing my hoodie across the drive way I bolted inside for cover. After examining my injuries and removing the stingers as carefully as possible I was not looking forward to my last two hives. I decided to forgo the warmth for the much wiser option of protection and suited up. The next two hives were much friendlier, but for three days I considered my unruly bees as the sting areas became red and swelled, the next afternoon they began itching like crazy before finally subsiding.