I’ve never liked smoking my bees. Smoke calms them down all right, but they aren’t quite themselves for a day or two. I figured a few minutes of bee panic is better than several days of befuddlement.
I’ve never smoked when installing a new package of bees. It hasn’t seemed necessary. They’ve been more than happy to get out of that dreadful packing box.
Likewise I haven’t smoked when I’ve opened the hive for only a few seconds to feed or stick in a frame or two.
Today I pushed the envelope. Big mistake!
I wanted to switch out frames in a new hive from one deep box to another. Not for a good reason, mind you, but because I liked the paint color of the second box better. It wasn’t going to take very long.
It turns out that from the bees’ perspective it isn’t so much how long the disruption is but how distressing. Moving a frame with the Queen on it is apparently very distressing!
My gentle hive stung me five times through my bee suit and then went after the landscapers working next door. Thank goodness the landscapers did not get stung!
I quickly closed up the hive and ran inside, followed by a few angry girls. My dog, the Noble Bayard, ate them with gusto. All is quiet now.
I’m going back out shortly to finish the job. Needless to say, I’m going to smoke from now on. It’s better for all of us!!
- Beekeeping Equipment (lostlakegardens.wordpress.com)
One of the best things you can plant for bees and other pollinators is wisteria. It doesn’t hurt that it is incredibly beautiful either.
- Gardening: This Spring, Plant Something for the Bees (thewellnessalmanac.com)
- Modern agriculture is stressing honeybees: let’s go native (theconversation.edu.au)
- World agriculture suffers from lack of wild bees (rawstory.com)
- Declining bee populations pose threat to food crops in Alberta and around globe (calgaryherald.com)
- Lonely Bumblebee Shelters – Solitary Bee Hives Give Friendly Pollinators a Cozy Home (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
Warning! This is a totally unscientific proposition!
I’m wondering whether defensive bees are healthier than gentler strains.
This is based on my own (limited) experience.
I have two hives: One very established Buckfast hive and one new Italian hive.
The Buckfast bees are defensive. No question about it. I treat them with respect.
But they are incredibly healthy. I’ve had the same hive for four years, and it is bigger and stronger than ever. I’ve never seen any evidence of disease.
On the other hand, my Italian bees are sweethearts. I don’t even bother to smoke them for inspections. But they seem frail somehow.
I’ve seen larvae dumped on their landing board, and the colony isn’t building up as quickly as I’d hoped. I’ve seen evidence of Varroa mites.
I’m considering taking a frame of Buckfast brood and putting it in the Italian hive. Maybe the Italian hive will become more defensive. But maybe that’s what it needs to survive.
I’d be interested to hear what others think about this!!