Friday, April 16, 2010


I'm not afraid of anything.

At least that's what I tell my kids. Really, what is there to be afraid of?

I don't mean startled, like you might be by a spider in a corner. I don't mean startled, like you are when Freddie pops out of the sheets - I mean real fear.

They don't always believe me - so I explain. Fear is about the unknown and there is a difference between having a healthy respect for an animal and actual stark terror.

I respect snakes. I realize that certain venomous snakes can cause damage - and I treat them accordingly. I don't fear them, I don't avoid them - I treat them with due respect and caution due to their individual species. My wife makes fun of me because i am the only person she knows who will "relocate" live cottonmouths by catching them live and moving them. Everyone else just chops them up. Makes me sad.

Bears - not afraid, but i also know better than to get in between a mother and her cubs. Grizzly's - I avoid (actually - I live in the East - but I respect them none the less.)

Spiders - are just spiders, they won't attack.

But I found out that fear can strike suddenly. It was bees. I don't fear bees. I don't run from bees.

But when I installed the hive - I was afraid. It didn't make sense. I knew better, but it hit me all the same.

I got the box from the post office and had a little tingle of thrill as I carried it to my car - bees thrumming inside contently.

We checked them out inside- then took them out to the hive. We soaked the three pounds of bees with sugar water, then opened it up. I worked quickly, getting the queen out and pouring the bees into the hive. I pounded the box to get them out of the little hole and bees were swarming around me.

My breath got short and sweat rolled down my temple. Bees were landing on my clothes, my hat, my hand - they were everywhere. I had to control myself.

I placed the combs back into the hive, letting them settle as the bees moved out of the way. I put the cover back on, all the while feeling something crawling down my neck. the bees buzzed around my head clouding up from the hive. I slid the roof back into place, and pushed it gently forward to block off the extra entrance.

I placed the feeder back in the front access, beex crawling up my gloves and across the net over may face.


Then I slowly stepped away from the hive. I waited for my breathing to slow, to gather myself. the bee crawling on my neck was sweat the soaked into my collar.

It was the most squirrly feeling I'd ever had. Fear.

I love the bees. I go out and watch them multiple times daily.

I only need to get over the fear.


Albert A Rasch said...

Nice work!

Don't worry, you'll get over it, and before long you'll do it with just safety glasses (A must!) and gloveless. Going gloveless is the best thing I ever did. Less mess, less bees killed, and less stings.

I would suggest that next time you go two blocks high... your back will thank you. Remember a super full of honey might way as much as 65 pounds depending on the size of the super.

Three pounds should have that hive fully combed (?) in a couple of months. Assuming all goes well. Have your super ready.

You know, email me and I'll send you a bunch of PDFs I have on the subject.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Big Snake Hunting in the Everglades

Doug said...

Thanks Albert,

I have a super waiting in the wings. I'm letting them get started with just one, then I'll add the second in a few weeks.

These are 8 frame, medium supers.

Tovar Cerulli said...

Hey Doug -

Nice post. Sometimes visceral feelings come over us, don't they? No matter what our rational mind is telling us!

Speaking of bears and bees, do people in your area have any trouble with the former being interested in the latter? Around here, I know a number of folks who have lost hives to bruins.

Btw, adding you to my blogroll today.



Doug said...

Tovar, where I live is weird - it is pretty much an island - and we don't have bears. Across on the mainland there are plenty, but I don't know any beekeepers over there. I'll research it, 'cause now I'm curious.

I've never had a visceral(good word) response like that - it was strange and unexpected.


Chris said...

Amazing how fear can sometimes attempt to prevent that which we desire so much: LIFE.. For life is to walk in liberty.

The uncertainties that surfaced when inserting your package of bees was simply due to being unfamiliar with their ways not that you were full of fear, i doubt.

I highly recommend that you enter your bee hive the next time you do so without any gloves. If they are Italian bees you will be surprised how gentle they really are.

Sometimes they are somewhat more assertive dependent upon select elements than other days. Anyway, most of the times you don't get stung but occasionally you might get stung on the finger.

I have found that it really doesn't sting at all if you remove the stinger with the sharp end of your hive tool immediately then smoke yourself in that area to mask any stinging alarm pheremones she emitted.

A lot neater experience when you are gloveless, there seems to be much more of a oneness with the bees, and thus makes it much more enjoyable and relaxing plus you will not kill as many this way.