May 4, 2010

First off, I seriously should stop watching that U of M video because everytime I watch it I play the scenario out in my head how things are going to go and it never ends up that way.

Before I went to the hive my heart was racing like a ran a dang marathon. Not knowing what to expect when I lifted that inner cover was enough to cause a coronary. My problem is, as I now realize, is I treat those bees like porcelain dolls "oops honey, I'm sorry, could you move a little to the left?" or "OMG! I think I killed one" or "Oh dear, is that one alive because it looks like somethings wrong with it." Who talks to bees like that??? Um.... ME!

I should regain composure before doing this blog post but I want this whole venture to be about honesty. So here is honesty: I sucked at the hive inspection, I was drenched head to toe in sweat because I was so damn scared and guess what, my bees were angels. Go figure! I imagine if I could see their little faces they were snickering at how inept I was at my first peek inside their world. But I'll come to terms with that later, for now, this is how it went.

Went to the hive, opened the outer cover then the inner cover. Went to remove a frame and hubby had to remind me to remove the pollen patty first (yes, I'm a dork). I removed one outer frame (completely empty) and set it aside. I started removing one frame at a time to find brood. Completely forgot to count how many frames have been drawn out. Do I need to add a 2nd hive body? I'm not sure because I failed to notice that part. The 2nd frame had several bees but nothing else on it, 3rd frame had capped brood, 4th frame had brood (uncapped), 5th frame had bees but didn't notice brood. Found the queen on a frame with no brood (pretty sure it was her, she had the same clothing and that same "I'm going to eat you if you touch my babies" look on her face as she did when she arrived in the package). Immediately I remembered that video.


Disaster strikes. A damn wasp lands on one of the frames. The sucker was huge (AGAIN). BTW/these aren't those little yellow jackets, these twitches are big. I freaked out. I'm terrified of wasps and now I'm in a position where I feel like a mother hen protecting her babies from the coyote. My hubby's yelling at me to flick it off the frame but I thought that would spell disaster (my head was spinning wondering if the invader had family that would suddently emerge to attack my hive and steal their honey - what little of it they have). So I tried to cut it's head off with my hive tool and what happens, it falls down between the frames right near my queen. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! My hubby's yelling at me to hurry and get it out. I'm yelling obsenities at it and I keep reminding hubby not to move too quickly (he was about to start flicking frames around), so he backed off and I went down to the bottom of a frame to cut the wasp in half but it jumped onto the hive tool so I flicked it on the ground and I ended her pathetic little life.

Good Lord, I couldn't take anymore. Just when I thought all was well I started to panic AGAIN! Forgot to put the brood together, move the undrawn frames to the center and the drawn ones without brood to the outside. Right??? Now, I honestly can't remember where the hell I put the brood frames, if I put the drawn ones on the end and the undrawn in the center or even where they were suppose to go. The temp is suppose to fall tonight to 50 and stay that way for days. For all I know I killed all the brood because I didn't put them in the right place.

Ya know, the U of M beekeeping course made this all seems so simple but when you care and I mean really really care about these creatures, it isn't that easy at all.

Afterwards when I remove my beesuit and my hubby saw how drenched I was in sweat he asked if I wanted him to take over from now on. He told me that he wasn't nervous at all so if I wanted to give it up I could. I almost started crying I felt so bad. Mind you, I'm a bit hormonal right now but I truly feel like today was a bust.

Here are the pictures hubby took of the inspection.

NOTE: I need to find out why the pollen patty was sopping wet and not even eaten. Plus, do some serious thinking about how in the heck I can get in and out of that hive in 10 minutes without forgetting things. This time constraint is killing me.
Strumelia said...

they look good!

You will be less nervous each time you go in.
If you use smoke, you might not need a full body bee suit. I use just a veil and gloves, with the light smoke. Try some jeans (socks tucked in) and a loose button down long sleeve cotton shirt over a t-shirt maybe?

My two hives are a week old too. :)

Under the Willow said...

So must to catch up on! Look at you doing your "bee thing" ~ I'm so impressed (again)--- I'd be more than sweating---I think I'd need to be wearing depends (can I say that?) :)

A WASP---OMG I'm now thinking of that YouTube video you shared--- NO!

Stay calm.....hugs

Michelle said...

Haha! Carrie, I should have been wearing depends too. I felt like I just took a dip in the ocean when I was done. It was definitely an interesting experience. Thanks for always reading and encouraging me, your the best!

Thanks Strumelia! I was impressed with how well the smoke worked to move the bees out of the way. I'm so paranoid of killing any of them so I was glad I could usher them where I needed them to go :) I hope I get to where you are. I don't know how long it will be before I'm comfy without that white suit but I hope soon because once the summer heat hits I'll need to wear considerably less or I'll collapse from heat stroke :(

Rusty said...

What a great post! You are so funny! But, hey, your bees look fantastic, just like they are supposed to. Don't be too manic about the ten minute thing--I'm always in there longer than that. Also, you might want to get one of those hornet/yellow jacket traps, the kind that don't trap bees. Last year I had three hives wiped out by yellow jackets in the fall. The hornets and yellow jackets that are around now are queens and should be killed. You did good on that one.

Oh, the pollen patty was probably wet from condensation in the hive. They probably won't eat the patty now that there is lots of fresh pollen available. I don't even use them this time of year.

alittlebitofeach said...

I was nervous too when I went in the first time. (and the second time) First time there wasn't much to check on since they hadn't let the queen out. The second time I was stressed about looking for little tiny eggs and larva on the brand new white wax. It was hot(for me 80 degrees is hot) and I got pretty seaty in my bee jacket and jeans. If you are feeling flustered maybe you can get a hive inspection checklist to help keep you on track. Put it on a clipboard to remind you of whatever.

Michelle said...

Thank you Rusty for the info on the hornets and yellow jackets. That is my biggest fear, that they'll destroy the hive :( We seem to have a lot of those parasites around here to unfortunately. I'll start looking for that hornet/wasp catcher you mentioned right away.

alittlebitofeach, Thanks so much for the tip! I'm going to do that. It will help me stay focussed. Much better than I was during this first inspection. I'll have hubby hold the clip board and read off each thing as we go. That will be great!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Look at all those larvae! Your queen is great!

Sam Smith said...

I think its really great that your keeping bees, I also love them, I have used nitrile gloves on cut outs with only the occasional sting, if you must use gloves they are much nicer then bulky leather gloves.

Anonymous said...

I use the following to keep apple maggots out of my apple trees. It also collects wasps and hornets. My bees ignore them. In a 2 liter bottle I add one cup sugar, one cup vinegar, one banana peel, and one cup of warm water. I hang it in the apple trees and it collects all manner of insects, but not my honey bees. Currently I have 6 colonies.