The rules don’t apply to me…

It’s not that I consciously thought this at the time of my minor infringement, that the rules don’t apply to me. I don’t know if anyone does when they breach the written or unwritten rules, guidelines, recommendations or good advice of life. The brain tries to protect us, we get this flash, a fleeting warning, nudge, little elbow in the ribs of the right thing to do but then we just as fleetingly ignore it. I wonder if we paid attention to all the warnings our brains sends us would we get anything done. Risk adverse I think it’s called. I probably wouldn’t get out of bed if I really thought about all the dangers out there. Actually, staying in bed has it’s own dangers!!

Delighted with my new swarm I had given them some syrup to give them a kick-start to draw out combs and help them settle. All I did was open the lid and put on the top feeder.  Swarm hives are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. This crowd certainly did not like their roof being removed so up they rose on the attack. It’s a sight to behold, angry bees zapping around in confusion and then attack, I stand watching in awe for a split second when a sting reminds me to get a move on. The feeder and roof replacement was done at Olympic winning speed and I escaped lightly with the one light sting on my arm through my suit. A kiss from a bee.

Michael Palmer: The importance of getting stung (3min video)

Hmmm, this hive either has a virgin queen which is awaiting her majesty’s return from a successful mating flight or it’s just a very cranky hive. It’s time to get over my buyers’ guilt and give my new bee suit its first outing. My bright yellow submarine suit. The you-can-see-me-from-space one (see Suitable for bees). A few days later I tackled the job that I should have done at the time I put on the feeder. I needed to take out the empty frames in the bait hive and replace them with foundation before the bees decide to do their own thing and draw out comb zig-zag across the box.  Yes, bees do draw out comb in nice straight vertical shafts but that doesn’t mean that they will follow the vertical shafts you want them to. so that you can pick up the frames to inspect them. Diagonally across a box is good enough for them and they would prefer if you never inspected them. 

Socks. That was my mistake. It was a beautiful, bright, sunny warm day in June. Even though you should be able to wear shorts and tee-shirt under this new super bee-proof suit I decide on long sleeves and long pants. Then that oh so fleeting flash of sense from my brain. “Put on heavy socks and tuck your pants into your socks.” Ah shur, I have socks on, ok they are short, light ankle socks, but I’ll put on my wellies. I’ll be fine.  Ah yes, “I’ll be fine” these could be famous last words. I must add it to my fridge magnets of sayings, right beside “Keep it simple stupid”.

In the field, the bee suit went on with relative ease, I could even manage the awkward zips that connect the hood to the suit that had decided to open to the back of my neck which made me do a dance where my two elbows pointed to the sky as I caught both ends at the nape of my neck and pulled them forward to close the hood. Suited and booted it was time for one final checklist before I approach.

  • Bee suit secure with all zips and gaps closed.
  • Leather gloves pulled up to elbows
  • Brood frames with foundation
  • Hive tool
  • Smoker -billowing smoke

A light puff or two of smoke at the entrance. Off with the beehive roof. Lift top feeder gently and give another little puff of smoke in the gap. Gingerly take off feeder. Bees bubble up the top of the frames! Bees run like a river out the entrance and take to the air!! It has to be done, sorry bees. I’m staying till I’m finished. Out with the empty frames. In with the…oh, there’s a wriggling feeling in my boot .”Ouch”.  Argh, that was sore. In with the frames of foundation. On with the roof and I move quickly away from the hive batting my boot at the ankle. “Ouch”, How many are in there? It feels like twenty. If I take off my boot, I’ll not only get stung by all the bees in there, the others all around me will smell the pheromone and attack the spot as well. I squeeze my boot with both hands, it’s you or me bees. The bees that stung me would die anyway. Back at my car, I take off my boot. My ankle sock had wriggled i’s way under my foot in my boot and the bees had found the exposed skin. “Revenge is mine” they must have shouted as their barbed stingers penetrates my skin. I shake out my boot and only one dead bee falls out. That can’t be right. Surely, one sting can’t cause that much pain.  I scrape off the sting and I take an anti-histamine. Later I find two more stings.  They had found my Achilles heel!


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