Agtually…I am by no means an expert on bee stings. Chris is definitely getting closer to being one though as he’s been on the receiving end of five stings. We have four hives in our life today. Would you believe that all five stings have come from the same hive?
So being the caring wife that I am…all the while making ice packs, purchasing antihistamine and anti-itch meds…I decided to do a little “sting” research and find out what makes bees sting?
Now we all know that bees will sting if they feel threatened as we would feel threatened if some intruder broke into our homes. But what specifically about my poor husband seems threatening to the bees that make them want to initiate an attack?
In the book “Keeping bees and Making Honey” by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum, I read that “the reason bee wear is light colored and smooth in texture is that bees don’t like bears – big, dark, furry animals who steal their honey. So it’s unwise to wear dark, woolly jumpers around bees, as this awakens their primeval instincts.” I wonder if the dark denim overalls that Chris likes to wear while checking the hives might be a cause of distress to the bees in this particular hive. This theory might be worth investigating with a little retail therapy.
The “Bee Keepers Handbook” goes into detail how very important the bee veil is to a beekeeper. It reminds beekeeper that “stings on eyes, lips, scalp or inside the nose or ear canal are extremely painful.” I think Chris would agree with that statement…you’ll have to ask him about his most recent sting when you see him. In his defense, he did have his veil on at first but too it off a little too quickly when the bee was already on an attack.
Besides the wrong clothing choices or the improper use of such items, what else is behind this “stinging?” Would you believe that I read somewhere that the venom and alarm pheromones from prior stings can build up on beekeepers protective gear causing the guard bees at the hives to be on alert the moment you come near the hive? That might explain a recent trip as Chris jokingly describes the hive as “evil” for attacking as soon as he removed the lid to add liquid feed. Guess I might need to throw Chris’ gear in the wash after each visit to the hives and not after every few.
Guess I’ll keep researching. I know a few stings are inevitable in the life of a beekeeper. My hope to eliminate the rookie ones as early on in process as possible.