“All of a sudden, my confidence turned to cold truth.”

Last Wednesday, I went to check on my bees. Confidently, I put on my makeshift beekeeping suit: my rain jacket, snow pants, hiking boots, leather gloves, and a cheap mosquito head net. Like a dutiful beekeeer,  I brought over 25lbs of sugar, lovingly filled up their feeder, and watched my 14,000 cute, fuzzy children wander around in the hive.

But I couldn’t help help myself.

I wanted discover if I could see any bee eggs in the comb to make sure the queen was laying, even though I had just introduced the bees four days earlier.

I opened the top cover to reveal a swarming mass of honey bees, clearly bother by my intrusion. The entire colony buzzed at me angrily and dozens of them began to shoot themselves at me, landing on my headnet, hands, and arms.

I tried to get one of the frames out of the hive to check for eggs. Using my pry bar, I began to lift the frame out of the hive. As I attempted to lift it out, it broke with a sickening crunch, and a comb full of bees fell angrily to the bottom of the hive. Because the spacing is so tight in bee hives, I had to remove another frame full of bees before I could reach the broken frame. Gingerly, I brushed the bees off of the first frame, hoping I had not accidentally killed the queen.

Then I felt it: the soft tickling of insect feet on my skin. All of a sudden my confidence turned to cold truth.

Beekeeping books say that as a beekeeper, one is supposed to move slowly and methodically when working around bees. All such zen-like thoughts completely left me as I felt bee feet moving up my back. They had got in. Milliseconds later I felt the sting. And I did what any other rational person would do: I dropped everything and ran. Fast. Brutally punching myself in the back where I had been stung. I ran across the yard — a grown, bearded man in snowpants fleeing in terror from bugs. My sense of imperviousness (to say nothing of my sense of pride) had been shattered…

I think I’ll go back tonight, ask them for forgiveness, and offer them some sugar water.

3 Comments

  • Anne

    May 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm Reply

    Have they forgiven you yet?

  • Erik

    May 25, 2011 at 10:08 am Reply

    Thankfully, they forgave me! The queen is laying and all is well in the land of the bees! I haven’t been stung again, and we’re back on good terms…

  • larry randall

    August 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm Reply

    I ran into a similar situation, this is my first year to keep bees. I was helping an older gentleman that had injured his shoulder, with his bees. I found out that if a bee gets into your vail…. it doesn’t matter how fast you can run or which way you turn… she is still with you:) almost forgot! never take off your vail to fight a bee… I did, the lone female can only sting once but without the vail you become a target for many:( my first hive did not survive.. i lost my queen and could not get a new one delivered in time, it succumbed to wax moths and hive beetles. will try again in the spring

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