Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lessons Learned

I've been so busy this summer, that time is going by faster than I can keep up with blog posts. So I am attempting to catch up on a month's worth of beekeeping in this one post.
We've already put up the second deep box with it's 10 frames and the bees are busy with building honeycomb and honey for storage. Checking the frames every Sunday is the highlight of my week! Pulling out a frame that looks like this is beyond exciting!
Like how incredible is this?  That is all capped honey! We won't be touching any of this honey, this is food for the bees during the winter months when they don't leave the hive.
In this photo it's an entire frame of pollen.
Here's another view of pollen frame. Isn't this gorgeous??
Earlier this month, at one of our hives, we had a die-off of thousands of bees. We came to inspection one day to discover a pile of dead bees in front of the hive. We suspect this was caused by some kind of pesticide spraying in the neighborhood. We heard that 5 other beehives were afflicted with this same die-off.  It's incredibly sad and frustrating for us to see this. I literally felt like crying when I saw the dead bees.
Luckily, the following week, during our inspection, it looked like the bees bounced back from the die-off.  The following week, we saw very little dead bees and the Queen was still alive, thank goodness!
One big lesson that I've learned however is to not travel without antihistamines.  As my doctor suspected, I am mildly allergic to bee venom and every time I get stung, the affected area gets really swollen.  Case in point, a bee flew up my veil and I got stung right near my eye. 
And the next day, even though I iced my eye all night, my eye looked like this!! My entire left side of my face was completely swollen. I had to go to work looking like this, and I kinda scared people. LOL.  Since this sting was near my eye, I went to see my doctor again.  This makes 2 visits in 1 week.  The previous week, I was stung on my hand and had a really bad reaction as well.  She was like.... "are you sure you want to continue with this hobby?" I asked her, will bee stings kill me?  She said no. So I said, well, then I am not quitting! My doctor decided to prescribe me a prescription strength antihistamine since I have such a severe reaction.
Since I started beekeeping in April.... I've been stung a total of 13 times.... Guess which foot was stung?  Now I know what the term "club feet" means. hahahaha.
My latest beesting.  I was stung on my thigh this Sunday, and my welt to prove it. The biggest lesson I've learned from beekeeping is that just because you wear a protective suit from head to toe and gloves... You still get stung! LOL LOL LOL.  The suit, like my bee teacher says, does not prevent you from not getting stung, it just prevents you from getting stung less.  Gee, lesson learned!!
Despite getting stung over and over and over again, I still enjoy this hobby as much as I did on the first day I started beekeeping.  I get extremely excited and giddy when I see frames like this. This is an entire frame of capped honey. In the center is uncapped honey that the bees are working on capping. We don't know if we'll be able to harvest any honey this summer for our consumption, but we don't even care if we do. We are happy to have healthy hives and hopefully next year we'll be swimming in honey for both the bees and us!!
Photo by Victoria Booth


  1. Ouch, I know it would be hot, but I think I would put on an extra layer of clothes!

  2. I am sorry, I had to laugh at your club foot. :) Even though I know how uncomfortable that kind of bee sting reaction is. I almost cried too, seeing the dead bees in your picture. It just disgusts me how little people care about other creatures. People still persist in telling me that pesticides are not poisons! I am very impressed with your dedication to your hives, and hope you are repaid for your pains in gallons and gallons of honey and beeswax.

  3. Haha wow, you're tough. I don't think I'd ever go into beekeeping myself.

  4. Take care. Those bee stings are not to be taken lightly!
    So awesome how your bees recovered after the die off. They certainly are "busy as a bee" in there. The combs look great!

  5. I decided to come here first before making my soup. I'm sorry for your trials and tribulations. I have had half a notion to try to have a hive or two, but already know I don't have the stamina to withstand being stung.

    I have been buying a light colored honey from a local bee keeper, and it sure is good! I buy plain Chobani Greek yogurt, putting either blueberries, strawberries, or cut up peaches in it in a bowl, and drizzling some honey on top.

    I wonder if they were spraying to kill mosquitoes. When the city did that here a few years ago, I called and requested them not to do it in our yard. I think I told them it was because of my allergies and breathing issues, which was a factor in the request, but not the main one. My yard is a haven for a number of insects and other critters.


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