Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Felt So Safe

After receiving sting #8 on the tender skin of my inner upper arm resulting in a particularly nasty local reaction to the venom, I decided it was time to buy some protective clothing. The night before I left for a week's vacation in wine country, I stayed up late with my beekeeper supply catalogs spread out on the kitchen table. It seems like every beekeeper supplier has its own version of the suit. What the suits have in common is that they are white and have lots of pockets and zippers, but fabric content varies from nylon (how hot does the beekeeper want to bee?) to poly/cotton to 100% cotton. Whatever the composition, when I see these suits a little voice in my head says "E.T. phone home." I know the suits get toasty so I settled on the only one that is 100% cotton. Coveralls are for mechanics, so I selected the jacket with the zip on domed hood/veil and separate drawstring pants. These suits are not what one would call tailored. When the package arrived, I found both top and bottom to bee plenty roomy so I can wear my civilian clothes underneath. The looser the fit, the less likely I will be stung. I like all that air space.

The forecast for the next seven days is for thundershowers, so when the rain stopped late yesterday afternoon I decided to seize the moment. I donned the new gear and Harvey and I headed over to the hives. The inspection was as I expected. Hive 2, the weakest one, is still the weakest one. The original bottom hive box still has some frames with no drawn comb, but the 2nd story was quite full. I couldn't find her majesty but I found plenty of honey, capped brood, larvae and comb being reused as a nursery. It was overcast and close to 6PM, so I didn't even try to see eggs. This hive had several queen cells, which I removed. I added a third box to the hive so now all three colonies are three high.

Super duper Hive 1 is still super duper. I found the queen in the middle box so I stopped inspecting. This colony is everything I want it to bee. It could bee in the textbook for what a good hive should look like.

Hive 3, the latecomer to my beeyard is also doing very well and is not far behind Hive 1. I couldn't find the unmarked queen but I did see capped brood and larvae and that will have to do.

The protective beesuit did its job. These suits are not sting proof, but sting resistant. Even with 100% cotton, the humidity outside made a steam bath inside the suit. I wish I hadn't forgotten the sweatband I had procured from Harvey's bureau drawer. My hair was soaking wet and my shirt and t-shirt were soggy. My leather gloves were sticky with bee stuff and the fingers are too long. Alas, I crushed many bees while handling the frames and I saw some of my girls trying to sting my fingers (and I felt them vibrate against the leather), but thankfully, those gloves are sting proof. The new domed hood is a huge improvement over the hat and veil I had been using. So much of the beekeeping is done bent over and the old hat and veil would flop around loosely on my head, a serious distraction. The new domed veil zips to the neck of the jacket and this is a far better design. I have improved visibility and my hat can't fall off.

Sting count remains at 8.

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