Let me start out by saying that I'm a beekeeper who is afraid of bees. It doesn't matter how many times I get stung, I'm terrified of bee stings. While Filipe throws his bee suit on over bare skin and assumes that a few stings will go through, I layer up. I wear tall socks, jeans and a long sleeve shirt under the suit as well as tall rubber boots and the customary long gloves so they don't sneak in anywhere. Although I get stung much less often than Filipe, I sweat like marathon runner, I probably look like I'm tying some kind of detox. In my defence, the species of bee that we work with which is native to the region- the Iberian honey bee is far more aggressive than the Italian variety most often found in the United States. Although bee stings hurt a little- the itch the next day is by far the worst part, although none of it really justifies an adult beekeeper running screaming from the hives because a single bee might have found it's way into her suit. Whatever, I soldier on.
|Getting suited up- notice the fleece, collar up, under my suit.|
|This lady in my beekeeping course made a suit for her baby, adorable!|
Now on to the more interesting developments in my apicultural world. We started out this season with six hives, meaning we lost three over the winter. They say you should always expect to lose at least 20% over-wintering. The hives that we lost were all in one area and when we took them apart we found mold along the bottom. This tells us that we chose a bad location for the hives; too much moisture/too close to the ground and not enough sun. Since it was our first year here it was hard to predict what the conditions would be like and where the sun would be during the winter. Luckily we had hives in several different places and some even grew over the winter so we know where the new ones this year will go!
|We removed last year's wax from these frames and now they'll go back in the hives so the bees can make more!|
|Melting down last years wax in a double boiler.|