It finally happened…

Well, I sort of knew it was bound to happen eventually: I got stung. While doing a hive inspection. Actually, just after the inspection. I went almost four months without any incident, and even did many inspections without gloves. And I didn’t even get stung on my hand – I got stung on my thigh!

Everything went fairly well yesterday, until the very end. I only had time for the inspection of West Hive in the morning, because we had plans to see the Blue Angles Air Show in the early afternoon. So after we got back home, I put by bee suit back on, and went to work on East Hive.

I finished the inspection, and started to put my tools away. As I walked back to my shop, I thought I felt something crawling directly on my right leg. Since I was still wearing my bee suit, I figured I must have been mistaken, and looked down to brush off anything that might be crawling on the outside. Except there was nothing. The next thing I noticed was a sharp stinging sensation in the center of the outside of my right thigh, centered in the meaty part. Sonofabitch, I had just gotten stung, from INSIDE my Bee Suit!

I still felt something crawl, so I quickly took off the suit, just in time for a second bee to come flying out. The one that had stung me was dead of course, but the second one was still very much alive, and I count myself lucky it was more eager to escape than to join her little buddy in kamikaze death.

I’m sort of bummed I didn’t think to take a picture with the stinger still in, but I guess I was a bit pre-occupied at the time. Here are some pictures right after it happened, and several hours later.

I had just pulled out the stinger. Not much swelling, just a bit of redness.

I applied topical extra strength Benadyl creme, which did a nice job dealing with the pain. So much so that I sort of forgot about it, and took a shower. Then I neglected to re-apply the Benadryl…

Turns out I ended up paying for that oversight. Redness was spreading, and the swelling got bigger. It’s more painful now, too. More Benadryl creme seemed to help though.

Now I know I can still count myself lucky. One sting in 3+ months really isn’t that bad. My fellow 1st-year Bee Keeper Friend Sonja has gotten stung on several occasions so far, and the results were quite severe at times.

I am still not quite sure how those little buggers got into my suit. The only thing I can think of is that I may not have zipped down the right foot cuff all the way, so there was a tiny opening. I should make sure to check that more carefully the next time. It wasn’t the bee’s fault that I got stung. It wasn’t an aggressive move. I think when I brushed the outside of my suit, I probably squished her on the inside, causing her to react defensively as a last resort. Bummer.

Except for the very end, both inspections went fine. Since it had been two weeks since the last time I had done a full inspection, I expected a lot more of a mess – stuck together frames, propolis all over the place. But really, it wasn’t that bad.

West Hive had been busy, and there was quite a bit of propolis on the frames and the queen excluder. West Hive has historically been a lot less crazy on the amount of propolis they produce and use. It’s also more of a brownish color, and seems less sticky than the deep red stuff East Hive uses.

Here is a nice frame of capped brood out ow West Hive. Tight pattern, some honey on the very top (I am holding it upside down in this picture).

I didn’t spot the Queen (really, since my Queens aren’t marked, it’s pretty much impossible by now, there are soooo many workers, and everybody is constantly moving), but I did see fresh eggs, so she seems to be doing OK.

I also decided to add a second medium honey super to each hive this week. I had assembled and prepped the frames and foundation earlier last week, so they were ready to go. I ended up taking half of the filled and capped honey frames out of each of the existing supers, and put them into the new supers. I filled the empty slots with fresh foundation frames. So each of the two honey supers per hive now has about 5 fully loaded frames, and 5 brand new frames with only foundation on them. I don’t know if that’s a good idea, but it made sense to me – encourage the bees to draw out comb and fill it in areas already surrounded by existing honey. We’ll see if this works, or ends up backfiring on me. I hope not.

This is West Hive right after the inspection, with two medium honey supers stacked on top. Bees are congregating around the entrance to fan out the smoke and generally calm down after the inspection.

As I mentioned earlier, I stopped after completing the West Hive inspection and put all my stuff away. I didn’t return until about 6pm, which was sort of late – but given the long warm days we have been having, it wasn’t too bad.

East Hive seemed to be doing OK as well. There were some stuck together frames, but nothing major. There was a lot of propolis, and it was a lot stickier than what I had scraped off West Hive. I saw a lot of capped brood in nice tight patterns, and ample stores of pollen and honey.

One thing that has me a bit concerned tough is the fact that I was not able to spot any fresh eggs. Of course I did not see the Queen, but generally if I can see fresh eggs, I know she was there at least as of a couple of days ago.

Since there was a lot of capped brood, and lots of larvae in various stages of development, the hive seems to be doing fine. There were no signs of supersedure cells. I also didn’t see a lot of open cells where eggs could have been laid. It was getting dark, and direct sunlight is helpful in spotting the tiny new eggs. So it’s possible I missed them, though I did double check some random frames just to be sure.

Likely, everything is fine, the Queen is doing OK and I just missed the fresh eggs. However it’s possible that the Queen is either dead or has a problem, which caused her to stop laying eggs. There really isn’t an easy way to tell right now.

I decided I will wait a week and check again next weekend to see if I can spot any fresh eggs. If that’s not the case, I would expect to see signs of supersedure cells by then. At that point, I would order a new Queen. But we’ll just have see.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 and is filed under DanTheBeeMan. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.