Became a beekeeper when I received 2 NUCs (5 frames) of bees at 8:20 on 22 April 2016. Got the first sting on my pinky around 8:45 – I must have been pressing on one of the little critters. By 9:15 I’d been stung 6 more times: upper arm four times plus under my shirt AND under my skirt.
Oops! forgot I shouldn’t be wearing a skirt while beekeping, but I was on my way to a Passover celebration and was dressed for the occasion. When I stopped by at home to pick something up, I heard a buzzing sound near my head and said to myself – you see, you’re so freaked out by the experience of situating your bees in the dark of night all by yourself and getting stung that now you’re imagining there are bees buzzing around your head. But then I caught a glimpse in the bathroom mirror of a bee sitting all pretty and relaxed, right on my shirt collar and the next day I found another trying valiantly to work her way out of our screened-in kitchen window. So the buzzing was bees, and not my imagination. I ended up bringing another bee with me to the seder table – found her on my hand.
Well, no lasting harm done. Bees are installed and I’m still relatively OK. These are the conclusions I can share about my first experience with beekeeping:
Bees don’t like being locked up in trunks so don’t leave them there too long. By the time I took the 2nd crew out, they were mad. Later, I found out that it’s important to orient NUCs to the same direction you’re traveling in so the frames don’t crash together when you accelerate or slow down, and I didn’t do that. Aside from being overheated, the poor guys must have gone crazy dodging death and trying to protect the queen all the time I was crashing them around while admittedly driving a little distractedly: being that I was wondering all the time if the bees in my trunk could escape into the car cabin and start flying around in there. With me.
Bees seem to like to hang out on my body. I’ve learned that some bugs do. If this bothers me I better get a suit. I’ve been thinking about that. Have decided that I’m so traumatized over being bitten that I must get a suit, and gloves. And learn to use my smoker.
It’s true that bee stings are worse to contemplate than experience. But gee, having been stung several times now in under an hour I can tell you that contemplating the next sting coming in a series is a bit disconcerting. After being stung, I did flap my hands around and do some little dances to wave the critters away from me … all the while reminding myself that this behaviour would probably be scaring those guys silly and maybe inciting them to more stings – and that I should stop being such a girl. My advise to self helped calm me down, a little bit. So much for the zen of beekeeping.
The bee under my skirt was plain old scary! Even though I knew once she had stung my belly she couldn’t do any more harm, I just didn’t want her there and crushed her dying body with my fingers through the fabric of my skirt. Poor us.
I was so glad my transport boxes had plugs I could pull out instead of the alternative – which is a little flap I would have had to play around with. Pulling the plug made it possible for me to walk quickly away after putting the box down near the hive and that’s all I wanted to do.
By a strange twist of fate, this 55 year old woman had ended up welcoming the bees and stings all by myself in the dark of night so that my two 20-something sons could arrive on time for our seder. With the wry sense of humour God likes to show me, our shipment of bees would naturally arrive on the Sabbath on the first night of Passover. Despite my unique journey, I managed to join the table not too late … about half an hour after our friends’ Hagadah reading began at 9pm.
Thanks NENJ team for getting me dispatched with my new charges as quickly as possible so I could buzz off to my adventure, and then my seder – y ou guys rock. Also thanks Rich Schluger for your tip to scrape immediately at the site of a sting to reduce venom penetration and discourage more bees from stinging there. This helped, although my 4-bite upper arm site became infected with 2 stingers I must have broken off and I ended up pretty sick for a couple of days.
Like I said, no lasting harm done but I definitely need a suit … and gloves …