Friday, August 23, 2013

Part II: The Inspiration of an Unintended Beekeeper

Beekeeping is more than just loving honey, it requires that you be prepared to learn new life lessons taught to you by your bees or be reinforced from the perspective of bees.

Bees are one nature's most fascinating insects, they are the only insects to make honey and are depended upon for 80% of the pollination needed for the world's fruits, nuts and vegetables.  You may want to think about that next time you bite into a summer peach, take a handful of nuts and put them in your mouth, or are trying to figure out how to make your grandmother's squash casserole recipe.

About 4 weeks after the hive was set up and the queen introduced to her new workers, it was time to check the health of the hive.  This means it is time to open up the hive and take a close look at the activity inside your bees new home, and with any luck you will see the queen or at least be able to identify that she is indeed working.

The bees here doing something that is called bearding-it means that the bees are hot and they have stepped on the front porch to cool off and have a beer.  A lesson here is you are clearly out numbered and the bees may not take kindly to the hive being disturbed.  Moral of the story? Just like everyday life, timing is critical.


It takes a certain amount of bravery or lack of experience to smoke a hive on a cloudy day.  My son was brave and he had no experience which meant he was willing to take the risk.  

An angry bee stung him in the arm.  His body overreacted to the venom and his arm swelled, it took a week or more to eliminate the swelling.  Lesson here...it may be time to buy a bee suit because it is going to become clear quickly that his body does not respond well to bee stings.

By the way it rained for 34 days here in Tallahassee and there seemed there was no end to our cloudy days, which made for some wild and crazy bees.


The hive is opened and the young bees are doing fine.


Wait, Wait, look the there is the queen! Look closely she has a painted red dot.

Bee fact: The queen lays about 2000 eggs per day and will select the gender of the larvae.  Most will be female. The only males in the hives are the drones which sole purpose is to service the queen.  The drones have no stinger.  Typically in the fall the Drones are led out of the hive by the female worker bees as the drones usefulness to the queen has expired.



Let's admit it takes a leap of faith and courage to hang out with the honey bees.  The life lesson here there is always risk when the return is worthy.

31 comments:

SuziCate said...

I didn't know the queen could be identified with a red dot!

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl said...

I have no idea if my last comment went through as I was too busy looking for the red dot! Beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular here on NYC rooftops so I'm glad to know more about this!

rosaria williams said...

What an amazing animal most of us take for granted. Great post!

Angie Schneider said...

wow so that's the QUEEN! I don't think I will have guts to do beekeeping...

Rhodesia said...

I think you are very brave. I will never kill a bee and I love honey but I keep my distance as when I get stung I am a hospital case!! Hope you have a dry and good weekend. Diane

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

So interesting to see what a queen bee actually looks like! I hope your son continues to enjoy his new hobby because, heaven knows, we need healthy honey bees. I also hope he buys that sting-proof suit :)

Sarah said...

I feel like getting a hive for my back yard!

TexWisGirl said...

i would not be brave enough to be a beekeeper. it is a fascinating science, though.

thanks for stopping in today! :)

Pam said...

Interesting post, and surprising how large the red dot is. Good luck to your son and happy beekeeping!

That Girl said...

So exciting - and brave!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What an interesting post! I came to look and learned instead. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Amy said...

truly fascinating. I've never been that up close and personal to a bee hive, even in pictures. How awesome. It sounds like quite a bit of work. But I'm sure the reward is wonderful at the end.

Catherine said...

Dear Velva, That is something! I am so sorry that your son got stung. It is very painful and it does take a long time to feel better. I hope he is doing o.k.. I guess the bee-suit is a must.
Hope all goes better. I am glad though that he was not dissuaded and is carrying on.
Blessings dear. Catherine xo

Tracey Steele@Breathing English Air said...

Another fascinating post, and excellent pictures. I think a bee suit would be a wise investment, because your son is clearly great at bee keeping, and the occasional sting will inevitably happen.

chewingthefat said...

That photo reminds me of the wrapper on an Italian brand of honey candy I used to suck on as a child...

Joanne said...

I'm impressed that your son only got stung once!!! I find this whole bee keeping thing super fascinating.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fascinating hobby. I'm so impressed with your son's learning. So sorry he got stung though. I swell up like crazy from any type of stings. Maybe you're right - it's time for a bee suit. How fun to actually see the queen.

BTW, the bees are the only ones who are wild and crazy from this rain :)
Sam

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

I'm really enjoying these updates. Yup, i'd be getting that suit. And LOL, finding that queen was like Finding Waldo. By the way, getting cabbage from my garden. I'm here to do a search for those cabbage rolls. I'll finally be giving them a try.

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

How exciting for your son! And how impressed that he continues after being stung! Awesome pictures!

Big Dude said...

I don't think I could do the bee keeping thing. As you know, many farmers contract with bee keepers to have hives stationed in their fields during pollination time and we saw something very unique yesterday driving through Montana. A semi was stacked about four hives high and covered with a mesh to deliver to the next location. As we passed the truck going slowly up a steep grade, we could see lots of bees flying around.

Chris said...

I found 3 racks for sale for about $800, not sure if that's a good deal. Just looking for now.

If he reacted like that, next time could likely be worse. Does he have an epipen just in case?

Karen said...

Fun! It looks like your son is enjoying his bees!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I live in the country and having bee hives is very popular here. Don't know if I could get over my fear of being stung and actually get close to one.

Nammi said...

my goodness, you keep your own bees!.

Rambling Tart said...

I am so impressed by your son's courage and ingenuity. :-) I've worked up enough courage to work with goats and birds and dogs, but I think bees would still be waaaay out of my comfort zone. :-)

Ramona JapaneseRedneck said...

I'd love to have bees.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I think it is wonderful that you son has such an interesting hobby. I do think both a bee suit and an epipen would be a wise investment.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I'd love to keep bees. I am 100% positive that I'd have a bee suit, bee gloves and a hat with a net the size of a volkswagen.

Mary Younkin said...

Love the pictures and I'm impressed with your son. (I can't believe you could see the queen!)

Balvinder Ubi said...

There is indeed always a risk when the outcome is something worthy. Long back I remember we had beehive on our mulberry tree (in India)and our security aid helped us remove the bees and obtain honey. I was quite small but still remember the smoke and everything.

Tina said...

I'm impressed. What an interesting thing for your son to take an interest in and I sure do wish him much success. Sorry to hear about the stinger though.

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