When I thought about doing this blog, I didn’t think at first about where to start. Where do you start? I have know about bees all my life so where do I start telling others about them? Then, today, a dear friend, who knows nothing about bees, asked a very simple question. There, I thought, that is where I need to start!! First, a disclaimer!! 🙂 Let me be the first to tell you that I am not, have never been, and probably never will be, an authority on backyard beekeeping. What I say is what I know or have been told by experienced beekeepers or from my own experience. I will be researching at times, I am sure. There will be questions that I will need to look up the answers to and those times I will tell you where the information came from. I will not claim any information that is not mine. That includes photos. Also, the photos and videos that I post are mine unless otherwise noted and as such are copyrighted. None of the information or photos are to be taken from this blog and used in any form whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner of such information or photos…, that is, me. 🙂 In other words, if you find it here, leave it here! 🙂
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s talk about the amazing creature that is the honey bee!! I am not going to start out from the textbook viewpoint. I am just going to jump in and go back and forth as necessary. I am sure I will be repeating myself so bear with me. Also, please ask questions. If I haven’t clarified something, please ask about it. If there is something you want to know, please ask. In fact, I just found out more by repeating my friend’s question to Arn (my husband, Arnold)!! First of all, my “wealth” of knowledge comes mainly from my husband and his dad. They have a combined over 100 years experience with backyard beekeeping. My dad also had bees for a while when I was a teen and I remember some from that time. Our speciality is backyard beekeeping and I will try to stress that. I have never been around a commercial operation and I am sure their methods are different. The bees themselves are the same, though, no matter where they are being kept and cared for. Keeping bees for personal use or hobby is called backyard beekeeping. I will also try to write in conversational English rather than proper English with the correct punctuation, sentence structure and wording. It will be difficult because I love grammar and like it to be accurate. But I won’t worry about it here because when I talk about bees I forget all else! Love the little stingin’ varmits! 🙂
The question my friend asked was, “Do you put something out to attract the swarms?” The answer is, “no, we don’t. But there is such a thing.”
This is Swarm Lure. It is the scent of the queen bee which the worker bees and drones smell and follow. We haven’t had any luck with it but it is available. Arn’s dad once bought a Swarm Trap, which is a large, brown, bowl-like thing that the swarm lure is put into to attract swarms when they leave the hive. Or swarms from other hives in the area. Our information is that bees will work about a two mile radius from their home hive. So if bees are going to swarm, they will at times go find a place to go before they leave the hive. If there are other hives within two miles of your own hives, then there is a chance the worker bee that is out looking for a new home will find the Swarm Trap and bring a swarm to it. This never happened for us but that is the theory. What usually happens for us is that most of the swarms will gather in the same place each time. When a hive swarms and gathers on a tree or wherever, the queen bee leaves her scent there. That works the same as the Swarm Lure is supposed to work. This year, there have been several places they have gathered because they have stayed pretty close to their home hive and ours are rather spread out over a half acre. Probably the next post will be a more indepth description and explanation of the bee hive and how it works. An amazing story!
Here is the story about why I was so late getting this post going. One of the natural enemies of honey bees is the black/brown bear. It is strongly suggested that beekeepers wear white or light colors when working with bees to keep from getting attacked. Well, I pulled a rookie stunt this year. I had misplaced one of my white leather gloves that I use when working with bees so I just grabbed a pair of brown, cloth work gloves; the color of a bear!! I had worn them with every swarm this year and in years past so didn’t think anything of it. We have always had calm, don’t-sting-unless-provoked bees. This time, swarm #9, which had hung on the branch in the hot sun for over eight hours, took exception to my brown gloves!! They attacked! My friends, that is a scary sight. A large group of bees just let go of the swarm and dove for my hands. Then proceeded to sting and sting! A honey bee can only sting once. The stinger comes out and the bee will die. But that once is a world of pain!! There is a little pouch of venom on the top of the stinger that pulses the venom out into, in this case, my hands. If the stinger is barely in the skin or if you get it off quickly, you don’t get the full effect of the venom. Otherwise, the stinger will shoot venom into you until the pouch is empty. In my case, the pouch emptied nine times in my hands! There were three or four other “nicks”( barely got some venom). Having fibromyalgia makes the pain much worse so I was in a LOT of pain! For three days, I couldn’t use my left hand, and I am left handed. My right hand was swollen and painful but I could use it more. The swelling was bad and the itching was rather uncomfortable but the pain was unbelievable. My sister, Becky, read somewhere to put a penny on a bee sting. I have done it and it really works! In the past, when I have had one or two stings, it will take the pain, swelling and itching almost completely away, even after I take the penny off. I usually leave them on for half hour or so. I usually stick a band-aid over them to hold them on. This time, my hands and wrists were dotted with pennies and band-aids. I told Arn that now I was at least worth a nickle! LOL!! I wish I had pictures to show you but that wasn’t possible this time! 🙂
This is my story for now. Comments and questions are very welcome!
Negative comments and criticism will neither be welcome nor tolerated.
Have a wonderful day and y’all come back now, ya hear?!