Thursday, April 08, 2010

"do you ever get stung?"

whenever i tell anyone about my hobby of raising bees i immediately get the obvious question about getting stung. "sometimes," i say. "but they're usually very calm."

well, for the record, i got my first bee sting this week. i wish i'd taken a picture of the sting because i tend to get a little bit of a reaction. i have only myself to blame, though, which is usually the case when you get stung. the bees honestly would prefer not to sting because they know it's their kiss of death, literally.

it was monday night and i needed to feed the hives*. but i didn't get a chance to go outside until after it was dark. that's rule #1: don't mess with the hive after dark. but i was stressed because i wouldn't have time to feed them the following day. so i thought i just HAD to feed them right then. so i went outside (without gear or the smoker) to the first hive and managed to successfully get the lid off the mason jar, pour the sugar water into it and screw the lid on with no problems. there were a few bees eating on the lid but i avoided them and they avoided me. done and done.

the second hive was where the difficulties started. first of all, there were a ton of bees congregating at the entrance to the hive. i wasn't sure what they were all doing there** because they should've, i thought, been inside their hive watching tv for the night or something. i was already nervous because it was past dark. and i was in a rush. and then i became more nervous because they were displaying behavior that was unusual to me. but instead of walking away and doing it later when the conditions were better, i heard the voice of my grandmother the food pusher saying i had to MAKE SURE THEY EAT!!! so i got the mason jar and pulled it out, turned it over and there were a bunch of bees on it. no problem, i work with the bees all the time. but i couldn't see very well and when i started to unscrew the lid i hit them around more than they wanted and one of them pegged me on the middle finger. oooh does that hurt!

after saying a few choice words and walking away for a minute i was able to get the food in the jar and put it back in place with no more stings. but the damage was already done. within a few minutes my finger started to swell. thank goodness it wasn't my ring finger because i hadn't taken my ring off like i normally do when i work with the bees.

tonight, 3 full days later, my finger is finally almost back to its regular size. at its most swollen my finger was so big that the wrinkles in the joints were gone. it felt like it was going to pop! and it was so warm to the touch. but no permanent damage. it's just very uncomfortable. and then very itchy! ice, ibuprofen and benadryl help a lot though.

so, to answer the question, my bees do sting when provoked. but let's hope that doesn't happy often.

*they get fed a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 sugar in a mason jar which is upside down with holes in it. it sits in a feeder that is placed at the entrance to the hive.

**the hubby pointed out in retrospect that maybe they were fanning themselves because it was a kinda warm night after a hot day and the hive has to keep a certain temperature.

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