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Author Topic: I don't think my bees like me. :(  (Read 2446 times)
Ubi Mel
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« on: May 03, 2012, 01:00:42 PM »

I'm more than a little intimidated by my first two and a half days of beekeeping.  This is going to be a good lesson in working in stressful conditions!  I'm pretty much on my own here...I don't know of any other beekeepers in the area...the closest in our association is 60 miles away.  I've read the books, attended our local and state association meetings, watched the youtube videos until my eyes are glazing over (They make it look so easy!), and ironically, the only thing I'm not afraid of is getting stung!  The stings don't bother me, which is good, because my bees seem pretty ticked off.

My veil/shirt thing is hot, the hat part keeps slipping down over my eyes, I can't get my reading glasses on and off to actually SEE what I'm doing, bees are EVERYwhere!!! I can't concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing with all the infernal BUZZING going on...I'm trying to work quickly, but I'm blind and clumsy, and now my hair is all in my face and I can't get to it to pull it BACK.  Did I forget to space the frames?  Are they too riled up now to go back in and check?  Is the landing area angled forward enough to keep this torrential downpour from pooling up in the entrance?  How on earth can I get shims under there now???  Oh, no.  The smoker went out.  AGAIN.  I'm just making them more angry, blowing AIR on them, instead of smoke.  Have I left the hive uncovered too long?  Are other bees going to rob their sugar water?  Every time I put the lid on, I squish so many bees!  I can't brush fast enough to keep them off the lip of the hive!  They are EVERYWHERE!!!  I'm stepping on them, I'm killing them under the lids and feeder when I set them down...And, are you sure this smoke stuff really works???  I feel like I've got 30,000 little angry faces looking up at me accusingly, buzzing, "STOP!! Leave us alone!  You're doing it ALL WRONG!!! GO AWAY, or we're going to LEAVE!"

Somebody please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way!  This is a daunting task!
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BlevinsBees
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 01:26:53 PM »

I think everyone feels that way to a certain extent. It can be very intimidating. The constant worry after the hives are closed up and the second guessing of what you did during your inspections causes sleep loss every now and then as well.

The good news is it gets better. It's the opposite of marriage. The honeymoon period (or the first year) is difficult then it gets better and better after that. You'll learn from the bees the best way to treat them and the best equipment to use. The buzz will blend in to the background. Hang in there!
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Joe D
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 01:33:28 PM »

Welcome to the forum.  There was a thread about keeping your smoker going a week or so ago.  Mainly get a fire going, place what you will make your smoke out of on, and pack it. it will take some practice, I was having trouble keeping mine going to, the other day I had stay lite for several hours.  Are you feeding sugar syrup, giving them some syrup and then a little smoke should settle them down.  Sounds like your hat is to large, if it can't be taken up any  you may need to put something on under hat.  I also wear glasses but hood doesn't bother them much.  Maybe this will help some and good luck with your bees, Mel.

Joe
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gailmo
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 02:24:13 PM »

I am going to be in your area for a conference (Stony Lake) and would be happy to stop for a chat!  Not sure I would be of any help....but we could share war stories and if it arrives in time, I could show you my new Golden Bee Suit!!!
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Rurification
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 02:38:36 PM »


Somebody please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way!  This is a daunting task!



I feel your pain - and stress!   Here's how my hive inspection last week went:  http://rurification.blogspot.com/2012/04/hives-day-19-check.html

I felt awful afterward.   

The good news is that that one inspection taught me a whole lot.   The next inspection was a lot better.  I was calmer, the bees were calmer, the smoker smoked.  [Use a torch to light the smoker.  I'm not kidding.  It made a HUGE difference.]

Hang in there.  You're not alone.   You'll find your groove.
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Ubi Mel
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 04:38:50 PM »

Thanks to all for the encouragement...I am consumed, 24/7, by thoughts of my bees...it is pouring rain now...power just went off and then on again.  I feel like I should be out there in the bee yard, standing over my hives with a big ol' umbrella!  LOL...at this rate, I'll be a basket case by 4th of July!  I think I'm probably just experiencing "New Bee-Mom Syndrome." (Don't bother googling it...I just made it up.)

Thanks for letting me vent...and thanks for the smoker tips, too!  I wonder if there is a (LARGE PRINT) checklist that I could take out to the bee yard with me to keep me on task when I get flustered?  THAT I am going to google!

Thanks again,
-UM
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Sundog
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 05:23:26 PM »

Relax and stop worrying. 

Don't bother them unles there is a good reason.  Observe them and bee amazed!

Bees don't like bad weather any more than we do.  Visit them on nice days.  Watch their legs for what they are bringing in.

Bees will do what they do in spite of your help.

Have fun!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 02:56:22 AM »

The best you can hope for is that they don't MIND you.  They will never like you.  After a while you'll be able to tell when they are angry and be able to tell when you did something to make them that way...

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Michael Bush
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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 05:53:36 PM »

your bees don't like you.  how would you like it if someone routinely lifted your roof and rummaged in your house?  evil  i look at my bees the same way i look at my horses...why don't they kill me?  they could! 

i recommend that you get a jacket with attached hood.  it's much easier and you don't have to worry about that hat, veil, bees under it, thing.  also, try some of those old lady 1/2 reading glasses.  or, next glasses prescription, some graduated lenses. 

i don't know how most folks feel, but i don't expect perfection when they draw comb.  doesn't matter if you use foundation or not, sometimes the comb will be wonky.  if i can separate and remove the frames, i leave the wonky comb.  the bees don't care so why should i lose sleep over it?  most of the time i don't cut out burr comb because that's where they often stick drone larvae.  that's a good place for it, i think. 
that said, the most common cause of messed up comb is that we have not placed the frames, starter strips, or foundation properly.  getting it right comes with time and practice.

KISS:  verify that you have a queen that is doing what she's supposed to do.  verify that you have adequate brood and stores.  check health of hive, which includes checking for disease and pests. 
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wickedlibrarian
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 07:02:48 PM »

I just got back from my second "real" inspection since I installed my two hives three weeks ago. The first hive inspection went great; the bees moved away when I blew smoke on them, I could get the frames out, and there was actually brood and capped brood on there (I saw the caps and couldn't figure out if it was brood or honey or what; it was when I actually saw some larvae curled in some cells that I realized YES, ALL IS WELL!)  I still haven't spotted the queens though.

The second hive, the first thing a bee did was sting my glove. They were all up-in-arms after that; flying everywhere, no amount of smoke to calm them (it seemed to infuriate them more; and "smoking the sting spot" didn't seem to help.)  I put everything back together again without really seeing if there was brood or not; I will guess that by the sheer numbers of bees in the hive, that they ARE making new workers. They were EVERYWHERE.

I hope my hive #2 is in a better mood next time. I left them a bit stirred up so I hope they don't remember the clumsy monkey who tore into their home today. Undecided
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CVBees
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2012, 07:24:27 AM »

Three years later and it gets that way sometimes UM,  it has been a real challenge for me because all but one hive of bees I have tried to keep alive have been cut outs and those feral bees in my humble opinion are extra likely to just do things they way they want to.  I know all bees will do whatever they feel like.  Keep plugging away and prepare yourself for mistakes or oversights.  It will get easier to remember the things that are important.  Good LUCK
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Lone
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2012, 04:31:27 PM »

Hello Ubi,

It's a lot easier to work your bees with two of you.  I have an old off-sider who generally works the smoker, helps lift heavy supers and that sort of thing.  It makes it more fun too.  I split him off a hive with a ribbon around for his birthday and he trotted off yesterday to proudly do his first inspection.  Just make sure you give your offsider a good veil or if he's like mine he'll run off when he gets a sting! haha

We have some hives under a shelter for protection from blazing hot sun and tropical monsoon, but some folk just put a sheet of iron on top weighed down with a brick.  When it rains you can't inspect anyway, so you'll have a break from most of the buzzing then  Smiley  Do you need a shim if it's pouring like that?

It's a sure bet there are beeks closer to you.  Ask around, and see if there is any local honey for sale.  Being shown first hand is far better than reading.  If you have no success, ask the ones 60 miles away if you could come over during their next inspections.

You will always have collateral damage when you work bees.  To minimize it on the edges when you return the super or lid, first smoke all around the edge until they go back inside, then either slide the super along (hard with an excluser in situ), or tilt it on the one edge and slowly lower it giving them time to move away.  Don't brush them off the edge or more will just spill out.  (done that...).  It just takes practice to get the smoker to smoke properly.

The local beek says..move like you are doing tai chi.  If you have a problem with glasses or hair, just go away and fix it up.  Tie your hair up first or cut it off or something.  I don't know about glasses, but have you tried bifocals?  Make sure there is sunlight behind you, especially when looking for eggs. 

And look back at your report in a couple of years and see how far you've come!

Lone

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mcdwill
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2012, 12:03:35 PM »

Ubi,

I had the same concerns, and one of the same issues.  My glasses start sliding all over my face while I'm suited up, partially because I'm a bit nervous I'm going to do something wrong.  I don't have a mentor close so I've been doing it by myself and photo logging it for my mentor to take a look at.  I've been in my hive's 3 times since I got them the first time I was moving way to quickly and everyone was angry.  The second time the day was over cast and a bit breezy and they were even more angry.  The third time it was a nice sunny day which isn't comfortable in the suit but they were much more peaceful.  I also moved incredibly slowly and I think that helps.

As for smashing them with the inner cover I've managed to squish a few then I found if I find a clear spot to start sitting the inner cover down, then slide it across I've been able to prevent a lot more deaths doing it that way.  For my telescoping cover I move a bit more quickly after sliding the inner cover on I can usually get the telescoping cover on before anyone has a chance to land.

I think it'll get better over time, at least that's my hope Smiley
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Bees of Providence Hills
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2012, 11:30:02 PM »

"AMEN! Ube.  I am a brand newbee, also, and had almost the same experience.  I got my package of bees a week ago Monday, May 7th.  The difference is I think my bees like me, except two!  Only one stung me and that was after two hours with them and walking back to the house and one crawled up my jean pants and stung me on the leg.

When I filled up the frame feeder my smoke was too hot and the feeder got stuck and I got upset and so did the bees.  One stung me on the hand.  I had the hat and veil on but no gloves.  I was clumby enough barehanded, I can't imagine using the big/heavy gloves I bought.

I had the same problem with the hat and veil.  My glasses were sliding down along with the hat.  The plastic adjustment in the hat broke the first time I tried to adjust it!  My wife took ducktape and taped the viel the the hat! 

My bees like me, except two!  I brought them home and put them in a nice new home after 5 days in the mail in a little box with little food.  I sprayed them down with wonderful food - sugar water - I visited with them and sang to them on the 15 mile trip home.  They like spirtuals - I sang them "Jesus loved me this i know, cause the Bible tells me so; little ones to him belong, they are weak but HE is strong".  They chimed right in and hummed most of  the way home!  Try singing to them.  God luck!!!
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Bees of Providence Hills
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2012, 11:37:43 PM »

I forgot to mention that two bees got under my hat and veil; flew around my face and didn't sting me.  We all were releaved when I stepped back and took off my hat and veil and turned them loose!
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BabcockFarms
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2012, 11:59:51 PM »

My bees have been very tolerant of my ignorance. They seem to since if I'm nervous, so relax and enjoy everything they have to offer.

I too don't have someone locally to ask questions, but this forum has been a great resource.

Since I have become more confident they seem to be more tolerant, so hang in there!
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Wonga
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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2012, 12:40:16 AM »

Relax Ubi Mel,

first couple of times at your new hives, or with new bees, is hard. Bees will settle down as they get to know you and get used to your face, smell, voice etc. My first couple of times opening my hives were hectic, but now, touch wood, its a lot less fraught. i visit my bees every day, if I'm home. I often just sit there early in the morning, in the sun, before I go to work, for a few minutes with a cuppa tea, talk to them, let them know I appreciate their efforts, just hang around. They seem a lot calmer when they know you.
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2012, 09:50:52 AM »

<snip>I also moved incredibly slowly and I think that helps.

That makes a load of difference!  Also, if you can, don't pass your hand/arm over the top of the open hive...reach around the hive to the other end of the frame you want to lift out.  If bees start "jumping" at your hand or tool...stop moving for a moment. 

My mentor has told me more than once that on some days you can bang your way through an inspection, slapping the bees around and they will hardly take note of you....other days you can be quiet as a mouse and gentle as a lamb and they come at you with a vengeance when you take the cover off.   Remember, too, that you're dealing with tens of thousands of females.   grin 

Ed
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« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2012, 10:46:43 PM »

I'm in my 3rd year of beekeeping, and my heart rate still goes up when I'm inspecting a hive.  A friend of mine who used to keep bees many years ago told me that he would talk and hum to his bees at the same frequency they buzzed.  That kind of helps with any jitters--just humming along with them.
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Javin
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2012, 11:43:22 PM »

Heya, Ubi!

I would certainly qualify as a "newbee" myself.  I kept bees (for one season) when I was a kid, and have done a ridiculous amount of research since then.  For the next 15 years.  Literally.  And I've finally gotten a house where I could keep my own, and put everything I've learned to the test.

I'll tell you this.  It doesn't matter HOW much you learn.  How much you read, and how much you follow bee masters like Michael Bush.  The first time you crack open your own hive, the adrenaline and sheer panic will take over.  Once you've finally put that top back on the hive, you'll spend the next week wondering if you should open it again to see what you got wrong.

As others have said, the bees just... don't... care...  Whatever you screw up, they'll fix.  Whatever you got wrong, they won't remember.  Worst case scenario, you'll kill the queen (a legit concern when you go rooting through every frame, but even then, she's pretty good at keeping herself out of the crossfire).  Even in this case, they'll have a solution there, too.  May take them a month or two to get it straight, but they'll fix it.

I'm pretty sure I got lucky with my queen.  NO idea whether she's Russian, Italian, or Khazakstanian.  But my bees are as docile as can be, and super producers, so I've been luckier than most for my first time out.  In fact, I packaged the bees 3 months ago, and could take a full harvest today if I wanted to stress them that much.  (I've taken a total of 6 frames of honey, though - with over 14 left to spare!)

So I think the message here is, if you sit back and remember that bees are one of the single most NATURAL livestock that one can possibly have, they've made it for MILLIONS of years without our "help."  They'll figure it out even if we jack up their hive like a honey badger.  The stress is more on us than it is on them. 

I would strongly recommend that you check out Michael Bush's recommendations on how to raise bees. (www.bushfarms.com)  I learned SO much from his site, and it MAY be playing a role in why I have such contented bees.  The two flower nurseries down the road probably play a role too.  But if you're not going for straight honey production, he has a massive amount of great tips on how to let the bees just do what they do naturally.  And for me, at least, it seems to be working remarkably well.

I will tell you this though... I do NOT recommend using a fleece jacket to work the bees in 100+ degree weather.  While it protects you from any potential stings, I think I'm just about two more inspections short of a stroke.
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