I Hate To Say I Told You So

Today started out very nicely, with clear skies and summer temperatures. The yard is a sea of green and purple, and bugs are everywhere. We often have birds in the yard, and this year we’ve been graced with gold finches twice, which, despite being the state bird, we almost never see.

I peaked in on my girls today around 2 ish, and found 5 and a half frames of brood. Pollen was abundant and there was even capped honey, with plenty more ripening on the empty frames around the brood nest. The bees had created three supercedure cells but none of them were full. I squished them down and went about my business. I found the queen on the south side of the hive, where the eggs were freshest. There were a few on the east side of the brood nest, with 2 full frames of capped brood in the middle. This queen certainly is a runner. She scurried all over the frame when I picked her up, and the bees all seemed very flighty. I kind of expected that would be the case, given the different temperaments of the two packages when I had compared them side by side. I wanted these bees at my house so I could keep a closer eye on them. I expect they’ll be a bit of trouble this year.

With everything in order at my house, I decided to drive down to my aunts to see what her bees were doing. What had started out as a beautiful day quickly gave way to torrential rains, and I arrived at my aunts between showers. I waited a bit for the rain to clear and talked to my cousin about work and things. He’s been interested in what I’m doing and will come watch me if he’s home while I’m there. I told him today that because of the rain the girls weren’t going to be as friendly as normal, so I advised him to stay back. He thought he would be fine, and despite the fact that he quickly got a bee in his hair he stayed close by to watch what I was doing.

The package I installed felt nice and heavy. I lack the proper tool to get the combs apart, and because of the impending rain I decided not  to try to pull things apart. There was lots of new wax drawn out and pollen was coming in through the front door so I think everything is fine. They had eaten all of the fondant I fed them, so I’m glad I gave them some. I quickly closed them back up and moved to the hive that over wintered at my aunts. I’m amazed they’re still alive because of just how small the colony is. They had eaten some of the fondant but not all of it, and because their numbers were so low I decided it was best that I really made sure they had a queen. I quickly flipped the box upside down and cut the comb from the sides of the hive. I then carefully pulled up a top bar, which ripped clean off of the comb it had been attached to. The bees had braced all of the comb together so that I would’ve had to pull up three bars at once to look at anything. It didn’t matter though because brood was present in the cells that I had destroyed, so I got to see what I needed to. They were almost fully developed, so I felt bad that I had done that, but I needed to know if there was even a queen in there.

This seemed to make the hive very upset though, and a bee flew straight out of the entrance and stung my cousin on his eyelid. I had told him not to stand where he was, because the bees wouldn’t like him there, but he hadn’t listened. He was standing just a few feet away, almost directly in front of the hive. He ran off swearing, trying to get the bee off, but of course once you’ve been stung you can’t do much. I put the hive back together and told him to go take the stinger out while I looked for some plantain. He went to find a mirror and had the stinger out by the time I got inside. I did feel pretty sorry for him; I can’t imagine being stung on the eye is very pleasant. And of course he pinched the stinger to get it out, so all of the venom went right in. I guess I had forgotten to tell him to properly remove a stinger. He chewed the plantain up though, and spit the salve out on his eye. He felt better after a little bit, and I stuck around to make sure he didn’t have a serious reaction. He barely had any swelling at all, which was so bizarre to me. I swell up like a balloon immediately, and his face was practically unchanged! So unfair.

After a while I left him to tend his wounds with an icepack and some Benadryl. He thanked me for coming and was very nice about the whole thing. Hopefully next time he’ll listen to me and stand where I tell him to. I promised to bring a second suit so that he can get dressed up and actually see whats going on if he wants to.


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4 responses to “I Hate To Say I Told You So”

  1. Gary Fawcettt says :


    Sounds like you have a couple of good hives there willowbatel.

    Never heard of plantain I googled it and it kind of looks like a Banana tree, I will have to see if that grows in New Zealand. I don’t think it does, do you chew up the skin or inside for bee stings.

    Your cousin was very lucky I have heard you can get blinded by a bee sting to the eye; he will have to careful in the future.

    Good luck with your next inspections.


    • willowbatel says :

      There are two kinds of plantain, the one that looks like a banana and a common weed. Its the common weed that you want. You chew up the leaves and make a salve and then spit that out onto the sting site. It neutralizes the venom so that your body has less to react to.

  2. Talking With Bees says :

    I keep telling my Dad (deputy beekeeper, 72 years old) to stand away from the hive entrance, but he doesn’t seem to listen either! What can we do? He doesn’t seem to have been stung yet though! Or he is resistant and can’t feel them sting.

    I’ve just launched some honey jar labels. What do you think? Do you think they will be popular?

    • willowbatel says :

      I’ve always heard that you should approach the hive from any direction but the front so that the bees don’t see you coming, and standing in front of the hive makes it difficult for the bees to enter/leave the hive anyway. I think my cousin learned his lesson, but it would’ve been nice if we could’ve avoided it, haha.
      Oh those labels are a fun idea! Its much more convenient than making ones own.

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