Third Step to turning gentle bees into aggressive ones.
In the last post, I described how I had decided to treat my hives for Varroa Mites on the hottest day of the year. I'd put a bee gate between the brood box and the bees stores of honey.
Wife and I left for the evening, allowing the poor bees to swelter in the heat of the evening. When we got home there was a really big Bee Beard hanging around the outside of the entrance to the hive.
I pulled out all of the equipment I thought we’d need, including our ancient battery that I had charged earlier that day. It was hot, so I just put on our bee jackets over our jeans and tennis shoes. I lit the smoker, and wife smoked the hive.
I pulled off the supers that we didn’t want vaporized and wife put the telescoping cover over the top of the broodbox.
I donned my respirator, zipped up my hood, checked that the rear of my bee jacket was pulled down, and tugged my bee gloves into place.
There were hundreds of bees on the front porch, and I had to move the vaporizer very gently into the entrance, trying not to rile up the bees or squish any of the girls. I threw a towel over the entrance, waved Wife back to safety, and attached the clamps to the old car battery.
I watched. Wife timed. The instructions say that the Oxalic Acid should be fully vaporized within 2 ½ minutes. When I timed it earlier in the week, it took a full seven minutes. So, I waited for seven minutes, then asked Wife to time for another 15 minutes to let things settle down. I remembered seven minutes later that I was supposed to unplug the vaporizer! I unhooked it from the battery, and waited out the remainder of the time.
When wife said time was up, I carefully removed the clamps from the battery and carefully pulled the vaporizer out of the hive.
The acid had not vaporized! I quickly went into the workshop and backed my lawn tractor around to the hive. I had to close off those poor bees for another 22 minutes during this sweltering night. I slowly put the vaporizer back in the hive and covered the entryway.
This time, I connected to the lawn tractor’s battery.
This time, I could tell something was going on inside. Bees started pouring out of the hive. The had made a path around the cloth. There were a lot of bees crawling around the outside of the hive, and they sounded mad.
I remembered to unhook the battery after 7 minutes, this time. After another 15 minutes, I pulled the towel off the entryway and was met with a lot of upset bees. I pulled the vaporizer out and set it down. I walked around to pick up the supers that had been removed, and that’s when I took my first hit.
I had succeeded in turning perfectly calm, peaceful, and gentle bees into angry, aggressive, stinging bees!
I got stung on the shin with that first bee. There was an immediate rise in volume from the hive after I got stung.
I took my second sting on the left forearm as I was sliding the first super onto the brood chamber.
I got the second super on and the inner and telescoping covers on before I got my third sting. This time, it was on the neck.
Wait! My neck? I had bees inside my bee jacket with me. For the second trip into the hive, I had been careless. I hadn’t pulled the bee jacket all the way down, and they were making their way up the jacket to my arm and neck.
I know you are supposed to stay calm in times like these. But I had now been hit with bee stings three times, and I was new to being stung. I’m an allergic kind of guy, and I didn’t know how my body would react to multiple stings.
So, I walked very quickly into the workshop, removing my hood to let the bees out. I got out of the workshop and onto our driveway before I got my respirator and gloves off. I left my bee jacket in the garage and stepped into the mudroom of the house.
I immediately heard buzzing, and looked around. Two bees came in with me. I looked down, and found I had a small swarm of bees on my pant leg.
I stepped back into the garage and knocked the bees off my leg.
I went back into the mud room and dispatched two angry bees with an electric fly swatter.
I went into the bathroom and heard more buzzing. Three bees had followed me back into the bathroom. More death was handed out courtesy of the electric flyswatter.
Well, I was successful in showing just how aggressive my bees can be.
Fortunately, they seem to be pretty forgiving girls. I was able to walk out to the hives the next day peek at the Freeman beetle trays to count mites (17).
I think that now that I know they can get aggressive when they want to, I’ll try not to aggravate them this badly in the future.
I’ll probably want to wear my veil and a long-sleeved shirt the next time I mow and weed-eat, too.
Just in case they are only pretending to have forgiven me.