Yesterday was our first full bee day. Frank and I kitted up in full beekeeping gear in preparation for cleaning off the outside of the hives. Both of us wear boots, jeans and disposable painters coveralls (with handy elastic bands on the wrists and ankles stopping bees from working their way up arms and legs) over top of our clothing.
Frank bought the fancy hoodie and long, elegant gloves to complete his ensemble.
I’m trying a scaled down version of hat (just a veil over an old straw hat) and gloves (soft leather gloves designed for concrete workers and the like). I’m confident the hat will be fine. The bees could more easily crawl between the collar of my jumpsuit and the veil but they probably won’t. The lack of a body to my hat means I’m choosing to wear 2 shirts so the bees can’t sting through. A heavy work-shirt (which I don’t own) would work just as well.
The gloves are still an open question. My finger work is going to be rather inhibited but I don’t think I’ll need to do needlepoint while caring for the bees. The real problem is the wrists are short so I have to work on a way to keep that sensitive skin from being exposed. I’ve made myself a cuff with velcro to extend the glove and keep it close to my skin. This is a work in progress. I may scale up and forget budget beekeeping if I find wrist stings become frequent.
After gearing up we went down and finished removing all that messy tape that surrounded the hives and Frank swept the outside of the hives – they had spider webs and dust all over. The bees were everywhere but not particularly aggressive (I certainly didn’t feel under attack).
Then we stepped back to watch. They flew out and around the hive. They carried pollen in. They hung around the entrance chatting (or whatever bees do at the entrance to their hive). It all seemed pretty normal bee-like stuff to me.
The chickens really couldn’t be bothered making a fuss about the newcomers (ignore them and they’ll go away perhaps?). Bronwyn chose the bed about a metre in front of the hives to take a dust bath. That Bronwyn is the daredevil of my girls! The others did what chickens do when there aren’t about 200 million bees (it seems like that many to me) zooming around and chose to do it right in front of the bees. Not all day, but frequent enough for me to be confident that bees don’t bother chickens (and vice versa).
For the rest of the day we left the bees alone with the exception of a few inspection tours (yep, bees kept flying in, flying out and hanging around doing nuttin’). How long does it take for bees to recover from jetlag?