Saturday, April 25, 2009

beekeeping field day

Today we got to go on a field day in my beekeeping course - which meant we got to go play with the bees! It was fantastic, and we learned a lot. It was really interesting to see the difference in how the hives were handled, the sizes, and the results of those differences. We split into two groups - the hives in our groups weren't totally full, there was space for the bees. We made sure and kept a flight path clear for the bees while we were looking at them so they wouldn't get angry. Some folks had veils - a few of us didn't and we were fine with it. The bees in our group were calm, no one got stung, we got to see the frames and see the bees - and the queen! We got to see larva and drones and workers and capped honey and even little tiny bee eggs.

The second group's colonies were overfull, and one of them might not have had a queen. (This makes bees uneasy to begin with.) They left no flight path for the bees, and they were all crowded around the hives and very excited about seeing the bees. And those bees grew angrier by the minute - they were flying all over the place, and stinging anything in their paths. LOTS of people got stung over there, and even if they got anywhere near there. I stayed very clear of those hives, even when they were doing a second demonstration with them.

It was very interesting to see the differences, and very informative. Bees like a relaxed environment - they don't like to be too crowded. they don't like lots of new smells - thus the smoke, to make everything smell the same - and they don't like folks wearing dark colours. When they see black, they think bear, so they sting. They cannot see white, so light colours are preferable, as they keep you out of harm's way. I wore a light shirt but covered it with a read hoodie (it was chilly out), but bees don't see red so well - they see it as grey. So I believe it is harmless. I didn't get stung anyway, and I wasn't wearing a veil.

It was a very interesting day - there is so much more to bees than one might think - SO much more! And if one is into beekeeping, one has lots to learn about bee diseases and pest control as well - apparently there are many threats to bee populace, more than you'd ever guess. And we'll be tested on that Wednesday night - the final night of our course.