Archive | April 2012

Bee Sting Remedy

I don’t know why I feel the need to post on here every single time I get stung, but apparently its something I need to do.

As you all know I ordered a Warre hive last Sunday, and have been waiting none too patiently for its arrival. I assumed it would be here no later than Tuesday, but, well, today’s Friday and it still hasn’t arrived. I was talking outside with my neighbor, per usual, when I looked over at the hive and found the bees crawling all over the front and right sides, as well as the roof. This usually means there isn’t enough room in the hive and swarming is being seriously considered. Thus, I immediately called the bee shop to ask about when my hive would be here. They’re really backed up and said that it would be sometime next week before my hive got here. He did say he could ship me one box if I absolutely needed it, which naturally I wasn’t sure I did, so it’ll be here sometime next week.

Having found that out, I realized I should probably go check out the hive to see how they were getting along. I’d been putting off opening it because I wasn’t sure when the hive would get here and I didn’t want to open them up twice in a week. So I got all suited up, set up my smoker, and opened them up. My smoker went out two frames in, which was annoying because it was smoking excellently before that. The bees didn’t seem very aggressive so I figured I’d just go through quickly and everything would be fine. The second frame only had capped drones (on the bottom of the frame) and nectar and pollen stores, so I was starting to prepare for bad news when I pulled up the third frame and found it covered in day old eggs (just starting to tip over), with the queen present and everything. This calmed my fears immediately. The next few frames consisted of older larvae, capped brood, and lots of capped drone cells. More than I’ve ever allowed anyway. A couple of frames were connected to each other with large clumps of wax, and there were also quite a few swarm cells hanging off of one of the frames. I scraped those clear and put the frame back.

My arm must’ve been resting almost right on the edge of the box as I put that frame down, because I felt a sharp pinch on my arm. I immediately assumed it was a sliver of some sort, because bees aren’t supposed to be able to sting through the suit. Naturally I was wrong. A bee had stung me through the mesh part of my glove and the sleeve underneath. I was forced to quickly put the hive back together (unfortunately this resulted in a half nectar half pollen frame right in the middle of the brood nest, because I took that frame out for a little more moving room) and rushed back into the house. Surprisingly, I had no bees following me. I took off my gloves and inspected the sting. The stinger had fallen out, which, well, doesn’t really mean anything because it had more than enough time to pump all of its venom into me.

I quickly removed my suit and went up to the “greenhouse” (all of the plastic siding has come off, so its just the frame of a green house with three raised beds in it) and picked some plantain. I’m obsessed with home remedies; I find them absolutely fantastic. Plantain, chewed into mush to release its juices and placed on the sting site, is supposed to inhibit the venom. I rinsed the leaves (about a handful) and quickly had a glob of half chewed mush on my arm. Much to my delight, it reduced the pain immediately, and stopped the swelling. I’ve got a small raised bump on my arm, and a large red patch surrounding it, but so far everything is fine. Yay! No shots for me!

To be a little more clear about what I did exactly, I took about three leaves and chewed them up, then spit them onto another leaf and held that on my arm until the salve had heated up sufficiently (I washed the plants in cold water). I repeated this another time and then wiped the area (about two square inches) surrounding the sting clean with a wet washcloth. I left the sting site alone because I wanted the juices to absorb into my skin.

So yeah, the bees are filling in very well and needing more space (I’ll probably go put the super on later, since the apple trees have bloomed) my second hive should arrive sometime next week, and plantain is an excellent remedy to bee stings! I’ll take a picture of the plant and post it so you all know exactly what I’m talking about.

This is one species of plantain. There is another that has long slender leaves as well. This is basically a common weed. If you’re unsure whether it’s really plantain, dig it up. It has a really intense root system that is a pain to get out of the dirt. The roots are about three inches long and white.

Oh and before I forget, a drone began head butting me while I was in the hive. It was actually pretty intimidating because every time it hit my mask there was a loud smack, much louder than the one from a worker. I don’t remember reading anything about drones defending the hive. Anyone heard anything like this before? I’d be interested to know!

Sting Me To Sleep

The bees have a large weed in front of their hive that I’ve been meaning to take out for several days now. It’s just not possible because of its location. So tonight, instead of pulling it out, I just wanted to hack it down so it would be suppressed for a few weeks. It was a little after sunset when I first went over with just a hand trowel. There was still an occasional bee coming in every few minutes, but they were relatively in active. I went over and started hacking things down, and everything was ok for the first half of the weed. I moved too much in front of the hive I guess, because a bee came flying out at me. I deflected it with my trowel and ran off to wait until it was darker. About 15 minutes later I figured it was plenty dark, and went over with a long handled hoe so I could chop down the rest of the weed without trouble.

Unfortunately, just as I finished chopping down the weed (the bees were starting to gather at the entrance at this point due to the noise) I bumped into the stand the hive sits on. The bees came pouring out at the hoe and I had to drop it and run to the other side of the yard. I’d spent all day on the back patio, and all my school stuff was out there, so after a minute or two of waiting I ventured to the patio to pick up my stuff. A bee was there waiting for me, though by this time it was too dark to see it and I didn’t know it was there. I felt a small prick on my elbow and honestly wouldn’t have thought anything of it had the bees not just got on the offensive. I brushed the bee off my arm as quick as I felt it, and managed to break the stinger before it could properly stick in me. It did manage to prick me though, and I’ve got a little bump forming already. I feel completely normal, except for the hotspot on my elbow where the sting is.

So, lesson of the day? Don’t bump into the stand of a hive if you’re not clothed properly, and don’t think that just because its after nightfall that you’ll be protected from these girls.

It’s a shame they’re doing something that is actually necessary in the wild, because I would really like them to not be such ‘wild’ bees. Hopefully splitting them will calm them down. The Warre hive still isn’t here yet. I’m thinking it might be here Wednesday or Thursday.

Other lesson of the day? If you’re allergic to bees, don’t tell your mother you’ve been stung. Because she will insist on measuring the size of the swelling every few minutes to see if you’re having a major reaction, despite your telling her otherwise. I’m not kidding about that either.

Oh! And here are some pictures of that bee that was licking me that I promised!

Any ideas on what kind of critter she is?

Also, here’s a very crumby picture of the hive after I bumped into it. Those girls were not happy with me!

Keep in mind this was taken at 8:30 at night and the camera’s shutter speed was extremely slow in an effort to capture more light. Also, this was taken from the safety of my mothers bedroom, which looks out over the yard, directly across to the hive. But yeah, there should not be this many bees out when there is almost no light out! You’re breaking the laws of beekeeping little bees!


Lots of Drone Cells

We had three days of really nice weather from Friday to Sunday. Naturally I had the flu. I’m only just recovering (didn’t go to school Friday or Monday) and it’s rained the last couple days. So I wasn’t able to open the bees until today after it rained for a few hours and the sun came out. Making our high for the day 59 degrees.

Anyway, the bees are doing well. They’ve got around 8 frames of brood, mostly eggs, and a couple frames of pollen. There wasn’t much in the way of nectar/honey in the hive, but that frames with last summers stores is still untouched. And the appearance of a couple swarm cells tells me they’re doing more than fine. The supercedure cell from last time was untouched. I left the supercedure cell alone but squashed the swarm cells.

There were a couple drones in the hive, and a ton of capped drone cells. So I’d say the bees are on track for the year. The only thing I did was move a couple empty (or containing only pollen) frames into the brood nest to give the queen lots of room to lay. She was definitely looking for room, since I first found her in the top box having just finished laying half of one frame and crawling onto its other side.

The bees were a bit more aggressive than last time. There were a few more of them buzzing around my head constantly, and I was buzzed angrily several times. They didn’t follow me around the yard like last year after I was finished, but I expect that to come back into style as summer roles around.

I’d really like to have a second hive, for ‘insurance’ purposes, and I’ve been looking into a Warre hive. I even bought Warre’s book, and his approach to beekeeping seems pretty much exactly what I think (hope) mine is. With any luck I’ll be getting a second hive soon. I plan to order from (cause they’re kinda local and their hives are the exact dimensions of Warre’s originals) and I talked to one of the people at their shop when I went to Oregon to see family. He said that he’s had hives settle down (become a ‘nicer’ hive) after he split them. So I’ve decided to just leave this queen bee (get it?) and then I’ll use her to start the second hive once it’s ordered. Plus I can always replace her later.

Until next time!

A Nice Spring Day

It’s such a nice day out; I have to write a short post about the bees’ activities. The last few days have been really nice (with temperatures in the low 70’s) and with yesterdays thunder storm (complete with lightning) there are an abundance of flowers in the yard. I actually don’t recall ever seeing so many bees in the yard. I did a quick walk through and it seemed like every few feet there was a bee on a flower. The hyacinth have already started going to seed because of the speedy pollination of these bees. The bright yellow flowers of the turnips have started turning to seedpods as well. There are bees on almost every other flower in the yard it seems like. The dandelions, and the cherry blossom tree are dangerous to walk past. Although, I did notice the bees seem to be robbing from the cherry blossom. Which is unfortunate.

This nice weather is supposed to continue through the weekend, and hopefully I can open the bees on Monday to see if they’ve started raising a new queen. It would be nice if things timed out so there was a new queen in the hive in the middle of the fruit tree flow. Then there should still be enough bees in the hive that they can forage successfully, and the population build up for the summer won’t be set too far back.

Deformed Drones, Mites On The Missies, And A Nectar Flow

Although it’s only been 6 days since I opened the bees last, I plan on going to my grandparents tomorrow (and it’s supposed to rain) so I wanted to make sure to take a look at the bees.

The queen is laying eggs in a super scattered mess. There were some frames with 4 or 5 eggs on them, others were relatively well covered, but only one had a solid pattern. There were a couple supersedure cells on some frames, so I moved those closer to the center of the brood nest. Not that it matters, clearly.

There was only 1 drone in the hive. Its wing was deformed, so I killed and removed it. There are a quite a few drone cells though, and I left those be. I figure, its spring, there are supposed to be males. The hive has a good flow of nectar coming in (several frames were glittering with it) so they can support a few drones. There was an entire frame of workers that seemed to have a chunk missing from their wings. It was really weird. I only noticed it because their wings looked so small, but they appeared fine otherwise and they could still fly. I’m not sure what to make of it. Also, it appeared as though a fresh batch of bees had just hatched. They were SMALL. Tiny tiny little girls. They were close to half the size of the older bees. Not sure what to make of that either. I also found a mite in the hive. I only saw one, and I squished and removed the bee that it was living on.

The bees don’t seem eager to expand, but they insist on drawing comb out in between the boxes. The queen also insists on laying eggs there. I removed it. In other messy news, there is a lot more propolis in the hive. It’s a thick brown paste that’s a goopy mess. The good news is it comes right off the frames. I cleaned all the edges of the frames off and gained probably a half-inch back. It was nice to have that space to move the frames around a little easier.

I’m a little worried about the deformed wing of the drone and the greatly reduced size of the new workers. I don’t even know where there are combs that small. The mite sighting kind of alerts me to the possibility of other diseases, and the mold in the hive was still noticeable despite the increase in pollen and nectar stores (right next to moldy cells). I think the sooner this queen is replaced, the better.

A Rose By Any Other Bee Would Smell As Sweet

I opened the bees yesterday after I got home from the longest day of school I’ve ever had and opened them up. I didn’t have time to post about it until just now though.

The bees had expanded up into the top box; filling almost an entire frame with brood. The lower box hadn’t been laid in recently (everything was capped) but most of the honey is in that box. So, I did some moving around. The brood frames from the top box were switched into the lower, as were a couple frames with some pockets of late summer’s dark honey from last year. I arranged the lower box so there were 3 or 4 frames of brood, with honey on the edges. There were a few frames with little pockets of honey that I put into the center of the top box, since that seemed to encourage the bees to expand last time.

The crocuses have popped up, and there was nectar in the hive yesterday. Not much, but hopefully enough to get egg laying properly underway. I found the queen, and she seems healthy, but the bees have made a couple queen cups in the middle of some frames. I’m tempted to leave them there, since I’m not a fan of this current queen, and if the bees get rid of her of their own accord, it’ll save me the trouble of doing it myself. There was also a very large pocket of drones on one of the frames, so I carved it out. There were a few new pockets of bur comb (there were even eggs in some) so I figured giving the bees some place to draw out new comb would be good for them.

Random thing of interest: the hive smelled like roses.

Other than that there isn’t much going on in the hive. There’s a ton of white pollen everywhere, and mold has spread, but I think once the population increases that will all go away.

Also, today I’m finally signing up for the state beekeepers association. I didn’t want to do it last year since I wasn’t sure if the bee’s would make it, and I didn’t want to bother with all the paperwork, but since the bees seem perfectly healthy I figured I should probably sign up. Oh, and apparently some new law has changed so it’s legal for me to have bees. Apparently it wasn’t before (?). I followed all the guidelines listed on the county’s website, but I guess I was still breaking the law somehow. But then, that’s me really. When I break the law, you better watch out! Things are bound to get out of hand!