Beekeeping and Honey!
Another couple of bee stories October 23 2014, 0 Comments
One of the best things about my job is the fabulous stories that I get told - I have people tell me all sorts of stories about bees, or beekeeping. I had a gentleman come and tell me a story of a time when he was tramping in New Zealand many years ago with a couple of friends. They were in the middle of a track in the South Island, and observed some of the bumblebees in the area looking around for some flowers. The gentleman told me that another fellow and himself were dressed in a very boring khaki raincoats, but their lady friend had a very trendy, bright yellow one.
Over the course of the day, the bumblebees noticed the young ladies' yellow raincoat, and became curious about it. An hour later, the lady couldn't walk along the track for all the bumblebees knocking into her! Bumblebees are pretty dopey - and not aggressive at all - so they continued to bump into the lady despite knocking their heads against the coat repeatedly.
She ended up having to change into another jumper to get a clear track. How delightful - fuzzy, cuddly air-bombers!
I came across a story on the feeds this week was a hive removal out of a 44-gallon drum. The hive had been in the drum for about 5 years, and very strong. The beekeeper split the hive into 2 new hives, due to the 30,000approx bees in the drum. The really interesting thing, was the fact that the bees had been using bitumen as propolis. Propolis is 'bee-glue' and used for all sorts of things inside the hive - preserving, plugging droughts and holes, even mummifying rodents or small animals that get into the hive, are strung to death, and the bees can't drag out of the hive! Of course, using bitumen is not ideal - being poisonous, but this shows the resourcefulness of our ladies!Last story for the day - I sent Mr T up the hill a couple of weeks ago to check on some of our hives, in a lovely spot where a horse is also kept. This horse is by herself, so she is pretty lonely. After a pat, Mr T told her that it was time to get on with beekeeping and set up the table and equipment. The horse seems to get on pretty well with the hives in the paddock (it is a fairly big one) and was hanging around while Mr T looked at the first two hives. However, it was a different story when Mr T went to open the last hive. This hive is a little more grumpy anyway, and started to buzz around a bit more than the last hives.
This also meant, that when the horse stuck her nose into the working area looking for more pats from Mr T, the bees were not particularly impressed...and let her know by stinging said nose a number of times.
You can guess what happened next! The horse swings around, Mr T dives out of the way of a hind kick in line with the hive and table where he is working! The hive gets knocked over, and now 20,000 angry bees are in the air. In the defense of the angry bees, I imagine that if some giant knocked over my house, I would be pretty peed! However, the horse is now at the end of the paddock, and Mr T is not. Poor Mr T becomes the scapegoat - and still has to right the hive, pack it all back and get it in order so that it doesn't get rain or such in it.
Even through the beesuits, he gets stung. Lots. And lots!
He arrives home, looking rather monkey-man like and I send him off to bed with a very fat face, hands and ankles with a couple of phenergan... Poor Mr T, if he wanted a afternoon nap, he probably should have just asked for one! I'm not that mean ;-)
Bumblebee 1: www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk
Bituman hive: Steve Angel