Saturday, 12 April 2014

A wee bit of bother

Yes, well, ********* ******** bees!!!!!! Our lot just swarmed and hung themselves on the bottom of the rabbit cages. On went our bee keeping suits. No spare hive, just a cardboard box. Tried to hook bees into box. Boy oh boy, but didn’t they get as mad as hell. It was dark, but we had a light to see by, which woke the bees up, which encouraged them to zoom in on us. Beekeeping suits found to be totally unsuitable for swarm collecting. Bees got inside Lester's suit. He had quite a few manic moments as he tried to swat them dead, but they died anyway.... after they had stung him. Six stings in total. I didn't get any, because I was not in the thick of it. But then a few of the bees, who had become really ticked off at our interference, did get inside my suit......
...and I walked away into the darkness, my self preservation overcoming my ability to stand by my man, and I walked out onto the lane where this no light, and I stayed calm so the bees inside my suit would not think Wahooooooo, sting time. And I quietly unzipped the suit, and then with a sudden surge of panic, whipped it over my head and flung it onto the ground, heading on down the lane in a sudden spurt of speed which was surprising even to me, as one lone bee continued to buzz me. I outran it.
By now Lester had got a portion of the bees into the box, and had taped the box shut. He yelled out for me, "I'll leave the box in the porch gateway for the night". B********y h**l no" I said. So the box was put out by the hay bales. Hopefully it won't rain tonight.
Lester then tried to get the rest of bees into another box. I stood and watched. Not going too close. I had abandoned the bee suit (it is still in the middle of the lane, possibly still having some bees cosied up in it) and had my rain mac on.
Now I am normally someone who is  'Lets go into battle together' when Lester hits a spot of trouble. But I have a sensitive head at the moment, my head having done a collision two days ago with the kitchen wall, and the rest of me hitting the floor with a smack. But I did not get into a fuss. I just laid very still, and did some deep breathing and invited calmness to come into me before any pain rushed in, which has helped my body to recover quite quickly from the fall. But not my head. Although not concussed my head feels like it does not want to be messed about with. It does not want any more bangs for the moment, and it did not want to be messed about with by very angry bees. That is why I had to abort Operation Retrieve Swarm. I also have a lovely large scrape across my forehead, and I really did not want anything putting their stinger into that particularly fragile patch of skin.
So you would by now be thinking that we shall give up on keeping bees. Not flippin likely! 
1) We need better bee keeping suits. An 'all in one' boiler suit , that is what we need.
2) We need spare hives so we can house any swarms which appear.
3) We need to take more notice of what the bees are doing, because a swarm doesn't happen suddenly. We had noticed the warming signs that a swarm was imminent, but had not internally digested this info because we were too busy doing other things.
4) We need to keep a regular check on the hive and hoick out any queen cells that appear.
5) We need to train the bees to accept us.
6) We need to read the books and watch YouTube vids telling us how to be beekeepers.
7) We need to get back in the saddle with the bees themselves, and not mind that they got into a fuss with us because we would have done exactly the same if we were them.
8) Not to mind that for the next few nights our dreams are likely  to include bees coming at us. It is quite something to have a bee flying right in front of your face inside the bee keeping suit. This image is likely to imprint onto our sub conscious. Not to worry, it will pass.
9) To remember that bees are only little creatures trying to do what comes naturally to them, and are not evil insects intent on doing us harm.
10) To repeat, endlessly repeat, that we do want to keep bees so that we do not boil up a hatred for them, which in the end would make us stop being beekeepers at all.
I did go down the lane to see if Sarah (at La maison des chameaux) knew anything about swarming bees. She didn't, but I did meet a man who is playing in a band at an open mike event at her place next Sunday. The Bollards (our band) are supposed to be playing a tune or two at this event. This man has done the rounds as a musician. The Bollards are only four weeks old. We are infants compared to his expertise. Yikes. Blimey.
And here endeth my 67th birthday. It started with the previous blog, and ends up with this one. I think I might go to bed now. I shall try not to think about bees. Or bangs on the head. Or The Bollards having their first outing at Sarah's place. Or my chaos of a kitchen. Or anything, except that my life is most certainly a very interesting place to be living in. Hope you feel the same about your life.
Blessings to you,


Janice said...

Oh dear, I don't think I could have stayed as calm as you did. You've had quite an eventful couple of days. I hope you are feeling better after your run in with the wall. Happy birthday!!

John Gray said...

Happy birthday Vera
Where did hubby get stung?

Did you rub vinegar on?

Denise said...

If it is any consolation, Vera, the lessons you learned about the bees are EXACTLY the ones we learned a couple of years ago when we had 3 swarms from our hives - the two most important ones being that all in one boiler suits are a must and you can never have too many hives!

Also, that a swarm will generally stay put for a day or two so no need to rush in and grab 'em immediately. Well, that's what ours did, anyway. I cannot vouch for Bees en France! We also found that a cardboard box and duvet worked well in collecting those minxy bees. And a soft brush of the dust pan and brush variety. Seeing them walk, en masse, up the slope into their new hive was a very odd experience. Like some sort of Biblical exodus but on a tiny bee-size scale.

I hope you are not feeling too bruised and battered. Give us a shout if you want a bee-experienced ear to chat it over with.

Rhodesia said...

Having always been allergic to bees I am glad we were not down there trying to help!! Hopefully you now have everything under control and the head is not painful any more. We are away this week going so spend 4 days at Cahors looking around the area. The garden should survive that many days without our help. I hope! Have a good week Diane

The Broad said...

Vera! Where will you find the time?..! Yoy are both very brave and my life is definitely no match for yours! ;-)

Vera said...

Janice, thank you for your birthday wishes. My head is starting to forgive me for crashing it into a wall!, not saying too much, but no, he would not let me rub vinegar on to the stings!

Denise, thanks for helping us with the bees....what would I do without you....

Diane, hope you have a lovely break. Looking forward to seeing photos of Cahor when you get back.

The Broad, my life does get silly sometimes, ...even I am amazed at what happens!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

i usually stand on the deck with a can of Raid, yelling to my beekeeping husband helpful things like, "DONT RUN THIS WAY!" so i'm with you. however, you should have seen what happened when the wasps/yellow jackets got up in my shorts. it was quite a sight.....

happy belated birthday!

Olly said...

Yikes! A jacket and veil should be fine, if it's all sealed up properly - I've never had a boiler suit. They must have got in somewhere. My worst thing is bees up the trouser leg. You know they're going to sting you, it's just when ... Best bet for a swarm is to get as much of it in the box as possible, then sit back and wait. If they all start trickling in you've got the queen - if they start bubbling out again, wait till they've recongregated and try again. Not easy, and I share your feelings. Bees are fabulous but can be scary. Oh and happy birthday, by the way!

Vera said...

OFG, crikey, and crikey again! Wasps up the shorts.....oooeeerrr! Hope you didn't get stung. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Olly, we had jackets with attached hoods which I teamed up with the waterproof trousers we used when camping. But the jackets and trousers have become separated, so we just went with the jackets, under which the bees flew because there was a gap between us and the jacket! But the bees are all in the box, and we are going to try to get them into a new hive today. Strooth, even our cow on heat is easier to handle than those little beings!
Thanks for the birthday wishes.