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Bee class #3

Although the packages of bees that we will be getting haven't arrived yet, we had our 3rd beekeeping class. The "Warm Colors Apiary" was certainly buzzing today!

While we were gathering up chairs Dan began to tell us about a problem they'd been having with a black bear. Out where they are in western Massachusetts they get black bears regularly, so they have the hives protected by electric fences. For the most part that keeps the bears out, but apparently this one didn't get the message. He tore down the electric fence and proceeded to destroy 12 hives over the course of several days. When Dan was out there he was able to keep the bear at bay, but obviously couldn't do that 24x7! He drew its attention by hitting it on the head with a brick, and eventaully coralled it in a tree using his truck as a prod (!). A hunter friend and the Environment control officer came and used a special exploding beanbag (basically a beanbag with an M80 inside) to scare it off. The debris from the demolished hives looked pretty sad.

After Dan had shown us how to install a package of bees in a new hive, he brought us over to the bottom part of one of the hive the bear had attacked. This was the hive that he was going to show us the innards of! He cautioned us that the bees were probably still upset... As it happened, he was the only one who was stung. Each frame in the hive was different, starting from cells of pollen storage towards the outside, and becoming more filled with brood (bees-to-be). We saw bee larvae (little shiny white globs in the open cells), bee larvae, and finally, after much searching, the queen bee! Dan was relieved to find the queen, as it meant it would be much more likely that the hive could be re-established after the bear damage.

Throughout this search the bees kept buzzing around, more of them and a bit angrier each minute. Finally Dan reassembled the hive and the bees began to settle down. The whole experience was amazing. The sound of the bees buzzing is louder than I would have guessed, but I didn't have any sense of anxiety as the bees wandered about on my shirt sleeves. We were all wearing veils, to keep the bees away from our faces. According to Dan (who was stung on the nose by a bee that was trying to investigate his nostril!) getting stung on the face is much worse than elsewhere. I'll take him at his word.

We are now totally pysched to get our bees! The smell of honey, of beeswax, was heavenly.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
your bees! :D
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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