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View Full Version : Maybe I'll leave the beekeeping for others...



Medsen Fey
06-17-2010, 09:41 AM
I've often thought I would like to try my hand at beekeeping so I could have my own fresh honey. However, when I see man dies after 500 stings (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/06/16/state/n173107D75.DTL&tsp=1) in the news, I take pause. He wasn't a beekeeper, but still, it makes me think maybe that isn't such a good idea (at least not until the children are grown and gone).

Tannin Boy
06-17-2010, 10:16 AM
Dam, that has got to be a terrible way to go!
My guess is it wasn't honey bees involved in the attack.

fatbloke
06-17-2010, 02:43 PM
Lets face it, most stuff that we as a species, find enjoyable, is because it's invariably toxic, only if taken in the right levels.

You wouldn't eat a ripe plum or any stone/seed fruit with the forewarned knowledge that they all contain trace elements of cyanide would you.....

Like wise, for the smokers, it's the nicotine that the brain likes, not all the other crap that's either in tobacco naturally or the other chemicals that the tobacco baron's put in cigarettes - yet, in the right quantity, nicotine is toxic.....

As is alcohol!

So for whatever reason the person died after 500 stings, the chances are that he wasn't there for bee keeping reasons.

Ergo, just about everything is dangerous in one way or another..... so why worry, moderation is the key, hence while beekeepers are often stung, they do develop a certain resistance to it after a while - does that stop them enjoying honey in one of the many forms that it can be consumed in?????

I doubt it....

regards

fatbloke

Smarrikåka
06-17-2010, 03:22 PM
hence while beekeepers are often stung, they do develop a certain resistance to it after a while

If this works the same way as the other things you mentioned, this means that they're developing an addiction.

sima74
06-17-2010, 05:12 PM
Based on the fact that he was out with a backhoe working on clearing brush and the severity of the attack, my guess is he stumbled upon a wild nest of killer bees. My dad has raised honey bees as long as I can remember and even tipping a hive over in the yard I never saw bees come at us that voraciously. As long as you got clear of them they left off pursuit and just buzzed angrily for a while before settling back in.

Funny story, my dad raises hundreds of hives of bees around the valley he lives in as a hobby (that makes a better profit than his ranch) and after they were married my mom found out she was allergic to bee stings. She caries an epi-pen but they're still together after all these years. I wouldn't let this story put a hamper on your plans, just teach the kids to respect the bees space and what to do if they go nuts and you would be fine.

mesquite
06-17-2010, 07:35 PM
I have three wild hives on my property, well I did but one showed aggressiveness and I fire bombed a months or so back. The bees in that one had been there 10 years and twice had shown aggressive tendencies even though I was nearly 100 feet away when the attack occurred. The other two hives are in walls of old outbuildings. They will tolerate heavy equipment within 6 inches of the hive containing wall with absolutely no issues at all. It all depends on the genetics of the bees. We have "killer" bees in the area and one hive (the now dead one that burned for over 12 hours) had compromised genetics at work.

BamaBeek
06-17-2010, 11:19 PM
>> Ergo, just about everything is dangerous in one way or another..... so why worry, moderation is the key, hence while beekeepers are often stung, they do develop a certain resistance to it after a while - does that stop them enjoying honey in one of the many forms that it can be consumed in??

It's a manageable risk. I watch the attitude of the bees or the hives, which vary for many reasons. When stung, I cuss like everyone else, get the stinger out as fast as I can, and try to smoke the area quickly to kill the pheromones so I don't get stung again in the same place.

I welt up some when stung, more if the stinger says in longer. I guess I have a level of resistance. My wife can usually pick out the stung spots after I've been working bees and take a shower by the welts. And I enjoy eating a LOT of honey.

>> If this works the same way as the other things you mentioned, this means that they're developing an addiction.

I don't know if I'd go that far. I can't say I am jones'n for a sting or anything, but I don't get very excited about it.

>> Lets face it, most stuff that we as a species, find enjoyable, is because it's invariably toxic, only if taken in the right levels.

I've had more than my fair share of painful hobbies. Many that pain was an essential part of. When I had had opportunities to do functionally equivalent hobbies that edited most of the pain, I quickly grew bored with them.

>> We have "killer" bees in the area and one hive (the now dead one that burned for over 12 hours) had compromised genetics at work.

Africanized Honey Bees, and various hostile European-Africanized hybrids can be cured by re-queening and a little time, or obviously, by termination. They are not to be trifled with, even with gear, and standard beekeeping gear is not necessarily adequate.

>> They will tolerate heavy equipment within 6 inches of the hive containing wall with absolutely no issues at all.

Try a day when there hasn't been a good nectar flow, when there are storms about, near dark, or when they are having a bad hair day. Even the nice hives can be induced into coming out to deliver an appropriate ass-kicking. I was mowing in front of mine, and after a few passes hive #7 decided to teach me a lesson about when enough was enough. The others were fine.


It's like anything else, you kind of get used to it and learn to manage the risk. After all, I'm the one who's going in there messing with the bees. I can do is slow and smart or not. And sometimes there are surprises - it's best to be prepared.

BamaBeek

Pewter_of_Deodar
06-18-2010, 09:30 AM
They say that the bees can sense fear and respond to it with attacks. Any truth?

If so, bees and I would never get along since getting stung repeatedly is one of my phobias. But the only way I enjoy looking at beehives is through the glass wall at the honey store...

I know, I am a whimp...

BamaBeek
06-18-2010, 10:15 AM
If what we call a "bad bee" comes along and starts harassing you, or bumping in to you, you can be still and calmly walk away, or start swatting, moving in a herky-jerky fashion and running around - aka fear.

Guess which one is going to get you stung first?

Actually, the exclamation "Bad Bee!" is enough to get my dog running for the garage,furiously shaking his head.

Guard bees that take notice of you usually try to run you off first and take more aggressive action second. But not always.

Guard bees release alarm pheromones and stings are used to mark an intruder. Best not to stick around, or apply a little smoke (a olfactory 'smoke screen') to impede their ability to rally more troops to defend the hive.

A bee that stings you will die, but not right away. They usually keep themselves busy in the meantime by clinging, buzzing loudly, biting (not very effectual) and generally chasing you around. It is really difficult to go - oh, that one's no longer a threat, ignore her.

It takes a while to get used to being around and handling bees, particularly when they are being defensive. It is quite do-able, it just requires a little experience, 'suspension of healthy fear', and some light colored clothing and/or protective gear (which is a lot less protective than you might think).

mesquite
06-18-2010, 02:20 PM
The last one that stung me nailed me in the temple but it died very quickly, under my foot , then the entire colony suffered annihilation for its transgression :)

icedmetal
06-18-2010, 04:32 PM
I have three wild hives on my property, well I did but one showed aggressiveness and I fire bombed a months or so back. The bees in that one had been there 10 years and twice had shown aggressive tendencies even though I was nearly 100 feet away when the attack occurred. The other two hives are in walls of old outbuildings. They will tolerate heavy equipment within 6 inches of the hive containing wall with absolutely no issues at all. It all depends on the genetics of the bees. We have "killer" bees in the area and one hive (the now dead one that burned for over 12 hours) had compromised genetics at work.

Bees can't hear, so unless you're causing a lot of vibration, proximity of equipment typically wouldn't bother them a bit. Unless you're in their flight path... in which case 99% of the time they'll just go around you. Some part of that 1% they'll run into you, which can be a little disconcerting. The other part, well, as BamaBeek mentioned, they do occasionally get defensive.


(which is a lot less protective than you might think).

See, I haven't been stung since I was a kid, and I like to go about thinking that my bee suit is anti-sting armor. Now that I've been disabused of the notion, you know I'll get stung next time I'm in the suit... :eek: I'm curious whether or not I'll be allergic. My father was, but through many a bee sting and no small number of epipens, he can take it these days. No big deal anyway, I've got epipens onhand too. I keep threatening to grab a worker and sting myself, but just haven't built up the gumption to do it yet.

BamaBeek
06-18-2010, 04:57 PM
It's pretty hot and humid here in Alabama, so I usually just wear the light nylon quick-dry, sun-shield "fishing" type pants and shirt. And even that is soaking wet most of the time from sweat. Bees sting right through it. The light color clothing, and keeping them physically off my skin is most of the protection.

I almost always wear a pull over veil, and gloves for intrusive or fast work. The gauntlets are a nuisance, but you can work faster so I usually wear them. If I am going in bare-handed I always at least smoke my hands. That way when they crawl on you they stop to think and smell before stinging the nasty hot sweaty human flesh. When you accidentally crush one, she will generally try to sting you no matter what.

I do have the cotton gear, zip-on hood, slightly large cotton painters pants, etc. I use this stuff in the cooler months, or if I am expecting a spanking - like doing a full hive inspection or trying to find/replace a queen on a known 'hot' hive during a nectar dearth or later in the fall.

I have gone in with not-too-dark blue jeans, aggravated the bees, lifted a crotch-height brood box and had them jump me on a couple of occasions. I've pulled as many as 30 stingers at a time out of the crotch area of my pants. :eek: Blue jeans + underwear was enough to keep me from getting my junk stung to death.

I would suggest keeping an epinephine inhaler around. They cost ~$20 and you get a lot of metered doses from one inhaler. And you might be more likely to use it if you though you needed to. Although, unlike an epi-pen (which I don't even keep around) they may not be of much use if your airway is closed.

Don't worry icedmetal, if you keep bees you will get stung soon enough. If there is any fear of a bona-fide allergic reaction (meaning anaphylactic shock) , I would do it in a controlled circumstance, and get stung in a location of my choosing. Most people who say "I'm allergic" just experience more pain or swell up more. I'm a little sympathetic (OK not so much really - suck it up) but this isn't the same as a full-blown systemic reaction, breaking out in hives all over, and having interference with breathing.

Many years ago I used to play paintball a lot. People would ask: "Does it hurt?" I would respond: "It hurts enough to make you not want to get hit, but not enough to make you not want to play."

For me at least, it's pretty much the same with bees.

BamaBeek
06-18-2010, 05:00 PM
One other important point - getting the stinger out as fast as you can, any way you can, is the best way to minimize the impact of the sting. The light nylon gear makes that easy by just pulling the fabric away from the flesh.

This is only relevant for honeybees, not wasps, yellow-jackets, hornets, etc.

Pewter_of_Deodar
06-21-2010, 10:08 AM
I've pulled as many as 30 stingers at a time out of the crotch area of my pants. :eek: Blue jeans + underwear was enough to keep me from getting my junk stung to death.

I read that and the thought of 30+ stings in that area just makes me cringe. I am so glad I do not keep bees. Blessings to those of you brave enough to gather and bottle the honey so that my "junk" can remain safe and secure....

David Baldwin
07-18-2010, 07:21 AM
I've only been stung once while handling our bees. That was after I fumbled and dropped an entire frame of bees... Kinda got what I deserved when one of the little ladies crawled under my glove cuff and filed a B-workers union grievance!