How to make inspection of bee colonies without a single bee sting? Yes, it is possible.
The biggest problem beekeepers, whether they are beginners or experienced, have to deal with is the inspection of bee hives which house aggressive and distressed bees.
The situation is understandable. Even people, while being angry and upset, do not desire someone else entering their zone.
Bees usually become irritated when there are sudden weather changes, particularly air pressure drops. I try avoiding these time periods, however, sometimes it is unavoidable. Many duties at work and in the family or unexpected guests at home can prevent me from performing regular inspections when bees are in better spirits.
Additional Causes Of Angry Bee Colonies
Besides weather changes, there are other factors which can cause a calm bee hive to become a “time bomb”.
I listened to people who studied biology telling stories about how bees attacked people while they were drinking coffee outside, the reason being the scent that comes from our bodies and clothes. I thought it was ridiculous and untrue.
However, a short interaction with bees has convinced me these stories to be true. Many high scented sources, such as deodorants, hand creams, perfumes or fabric softeners can affect bees’ temperament.
Bees act aggressively when ants enter the beehive, or when the beehive is not closed properly so the bee colony is endangered.
No matter the occasion, there are several practical tips which can help us recognize signs when the bee hive is in distress and teach us what to do if the situation becomes out of hand.
Eliminate Distress Sources
Do you like hearing loud noise on the weekend mornings when you want to stay in bed longer? Or perhaps you went to bed earlier because you have to go to work early and you are hearing clamor and noise. Or maybe you are working on something important, as a busy bee, and you are disturbed by noisy housemates or neighbors.
Of course you do not like these situations, and neither do bees. The worst thing you can do is to create unnecessary clamor when visiting your bees, or to hit on the sides of the bee hive. Unfortunately, these are the mistakes inexperienced beekeepers usually do.
Remember: bees do not like strong vibrations!
The best advice I can give you is to forget about hitting or shaking the bee hive. For starters, find a location which will be away from noise sources, such as grass cutters, or away from the roads with higher traffic frequency.
“A Good Time” To Inspect Bee Colonies
As there is always a good time for visiting relatives or friends, so there is a good time for visiting bees.
There are certain factors that a beekeeper can do nothing about, and which will certainly make the bees distressed. Opening the bee hive during cold and windy days is one such example, and the practice has shown that bees will be more irritated if the bee hive is opened just before sunset or sunrise. These are the periods of time when bee workers are in the bee hive, and they certainly will not be happy to see you.
For novice beekeepers, this is probably the hardest task to overcome, and remaining calm should be perfected during the work with bees over the years. Always remember that bees are living beings that feed on your energy, so if they feel that you are afraid, they will react as a dog or a horse would.
When working with irritated bees, the problem may arise if a beekeeper hurries up the procedure in order to distance himself from bee hives as quickly as possible, and this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Just imagine what would happen if you turned your back on an angry dog and started running. Instead of that, no matter how bees irritated may be, it is advised to spend at least ten minutes in the bee colony additionally, give bees some time to calm down so they can realize there is no real threat or danger, and then leave the bee colony.
Learn To Breathe Normally
“Breathe normally” has become such a common saying, short but very important for many situations we can find ourselves in.
What is with breathing normally when you are encountering bees? As a joke, beekeepers will usually say that “bees do not like the morning breath”, however, the truth is that, in time, bees have developed the ability to attack when they feel carbon dioxide. Almost all types of predating animals which attack bee colonies breathe carbon dioxide out. Beekeepers are advised to avoid giving out deep breaths or coughing while working with bees. Teach yourselves to breathe normally through nose during inspections of bee colonies.
Be Careful Not To Crush Bees
This should be of concern in everyday life, not just while visiting the bees. What will happen if you step on and crush a single bee? A crushed bee releases pheromones which pose a signal to other bees to attack. This act will turn the bee colony into a real sting machine. Be very careful when inspecting and handling bee hives. The more bees you happen to crush, the higher pheromone quantity there will be, which means a bigger chance for getting stung.
If you, however, accidentally crush several bees, the main goal is to calm the irritated bee colony, usually with the help of bee smokers which prevent pheromone spread within the bee hive.
Avoid Moving Bee Hives
We all know how people can become irritated when they get hungry. The same can apply to bees when their food supplies are nearing the end. Bees can also be extremely irritated when their bee hives are moved from one location to another. In such occasions, you will need to be particularly cautious.
Finally, if your bees are constantly irritated and aggressive, it may be time to introduce a new queen into the colony and follow the development of the situation.
I hope that these tips, which I have learned over time from experienced beekeepers, but also from my own experience, will help you reduce the number of bee stings or even better, return home without a single sting. At first it seems impossible, but over time, with more attention, and applying the tips I have provided, you can return home without a single bee sting.