I've been out upsetting my little ladies this morning, though I think I was as upset as them. Our second hive with her new queen is now up and running, so I needed to put them into a bigger box.
The remaining hive, which had a large group of workers poached to make up the new one, was absolutely boiling with bees, so needed another box on top to give them room to expand. They will swarm if they are too crowded.Our six secondhand hives have been sitting out behind the shed near the dog runs, and had a lot of activity around them; so much so I wondered whether there had been a swarm into them. They got quite grumpy if we got close, so they had to be moved before the poodles copped it.
I smoked the two in question, then put a sheet over them and trolleyed them down to our small 'forest' with the two original active hives. I had quite a sweat up with all this difficult moving around, as we are working on slopes here all the time. One box got away from me and crashed to the ground, which was a bit worrying.
Tops off, I discovered there was nothing important happening inside. Perhaps they were hunting for honey and stealing beeswax, but they might like to move in there later if they swarm.
Bees don't like sweaty humans, but I had all the clobber on, so rather than coming back again later, I kept going. I did pay the price. They were furious with me and although I puffed smoke all over, they hammered at my gear so hard I had to beat a hasty retreat to clean bees out of the creases and regroup.
But I couldn't chicken out, with the box top off and bees crawling everywhere, so back into the cauldron I went, cleaning some errant comb from the tops of the frames, then installing a new box complete with frames on the top. I was a bit too strung out to pull all the frames up to look for swarm cells. Next week, when they (and me) are a bit calmer.....
The next one was only a small box with four frames. I set up the new box next to it with four extra empty frames, opened the other and moved them across. My new bee queen sporting her white dot on her back was amongst her lady attendants. This was a lot easier, though I missed out that the opening was on the other side, needing hasty apologies to them all and a quick switch around. Bees do best when their hives stay in the same place, with the opening matching to how it was before.
As I calmed down a bit, so did they, but I made sure this time that all equipment was packed up and taken away. I have washed anything that has had contact with honey or comb, because they know you've been bad if they smell that.
Safe back inside the house, I found bee bodies stuck in my clothing and quite a few bee stings where they had got inside a small tear on my overalls. I've had a shower, washed all equipment, and not even bothered with the stings. Besides the red spots, there is no allergic reaction whatsoever,
but what about my arthritis in my hand and my knee? I remembered that bee venom could be beneficial and so looked this up.............
"As far back as around 400 B.C., Hippocrates - the Greek physician called the "father of medicine" - used bee venom to treat joint pain and swelling. Many people still find the stings of honeybees useful for medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), skin disorders and multiple sclerosis.
Honeybee venom contains at least 18 active substances known to be potent anti-inflammatory agents. These substances stimulate the body's release of the hormone cortisol as well as neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, all of which can help relieve the pain, stiffness and swelling of arthritis.
Bee stings are by no means a cure-all. Nor are they pleasant or easy to administer. For those reasons, I personally don't recommend bee stings to my patients. Nevertheless, I have two patients who are using bee stings with great success. They made a choice to be treated "more naturally." If they stop responding, then they know I have biologics and other medications waiting for them.
If you decide you would like to try bee stings, speak with your doctor. Like all complementary medicines, bee stings are best used in conjunction with medical diagnosis and advice. It's important that you be prepared for a severe allergic reaction by having a bee sting allergy kit on hand - even if you've never reacted negatively to bee stings in the past. Although the side effects of bee-venom therapy usually are mild, an allergic reaction to a sting could potentially be deadly."
JAMES MCKOY, MD