Friday, April 14, 2017

Bears: The Weapon of Mass Destruction to a Beekeeper!

Not a pretty sight, eh? Botox lips for free.
On Wednesday we were doing some work with two of our behives -- moving a frame of brood from a
queen-right hive to a queenless hive. After we finished that in our satellite bee yard, I went down to check out the four hives in the lower yard. Unfortunately I took my veil off since I wasn't going to be working with the bees, but something attracted one of the girls to my face and she stung me on the lip. My whole face started to swell and we decided I better go to the emergency room. So I spent several hours being pumped full of steroids, anti-histamines, and anti-itch meds along with some anti-nausea medicine since I was feeling sick to my stomach.

Two hives down: one upset, one demolished with lots about
a dozen frames eaten like lollipops. I found four more dragged
over into the woods for private consumption. 
Well, that's not the first time I've been stung and won't be the last so I figured I'd just stay out of the bee yard for a few days.

Great plan -- only Wednesday night a bear got into the lower bee yard and knocked over two of the hives and emptied a box, demolishing about eight frames. When we got up on Thursday morning the first thing we had to do was go out and put things back together and rescue the survivors.

They were mad as hornets! We righted the hive that was upset and salvaged the uneaten frames covered with bees. The bees from the demolished box congregated on the empty box like poor little orphans.

Larry, unfortunately suited up with a light bee shirt and the veil got too close to his face. HE got stung on the lip -- almost an exact repeat of my sting the day before and to add to that he had a tooth extracted on Wednesday and he started to swell especially on the tooth extraction side. Yikes!  Back to the ER where we saw the same doctor who, to his credit, kept a straight face. The nursing staff both days were terrific.

From the ER we went straight to tractor supply to get materials to put up an electric fence. Once
bears get a taste of bee goodies (a bee yard is like a candy shop to the bear) they will come back again and again until you are wiped out. Bears are weapons of mass destruction to a beekeeper.

Bear scat looked like the business of a juvenile bear. 
From the scat we found we think our bear was a juvenile. We've had them in the yard before in the Spring but they never bothered the bees, just the birdfeeders. We're actually fortunate. If it had been a full grown bear we would probably be out of business.

The bees were not happy while we were working and they buzzed us and bothered us the entire time we were building the fence. Several times we walked away to let them calm down a little, but they were not happy at all. Can't say I blame them. And then, after we finished we wanted to move the hives into the center farther from the fence to give us working room. We left the angry hive alone, but the other two weren't happy to be moved and that got them stirred up. Then we went to the upper bee yard (by this time it was about 8:30 and dark) and moved those two hives down to the protected area.

installing the gate hooks
What an ordeal!

Putting the fence up and stringing the wire wasn't so bad, but we should have put the wire on the inside of the metal posts and it took Larry about an hour to finally get the electricity working instead of arcing because it was too close to the metal poles. I was standing at the house plugging and unplugging the electricity as he tested it over and over.

We plan to get a solar battery, but they take three days to charge so we had to get a temporary AC unit and several long extension cords to bring electricity from the house.

So our plan to attend the Mass of the Lord's Supper was overtaken by events. We got to church in time for the last half hour of adoration at the altar of repose. Thank you, Lord, for that grace and blessing. We were both exhausted. It made me think of how exhausted Our Lord was during the ordeal of that Thursday night into Friday morning.

When we got up this morning the bee yard was still intact thanks be to God!

Did the bear visit and get shocked on the peanut butter lures we put on the wire. (You need to train the bear to know the fence is "hot.") Maybe, maybe not. But he'll be back if he hasn't returned yet and Larry just watched a video suggesting the best lure is bacon, so we will be baiting the fence with that and praying it solves our problem. There isn't much else we can do except continue to ask all the patron saints of beekeepers and all the saints who mention bees in their writing to intercede for us.

The nectar flow is on, the bees are busy and we hope for a fantastic honey season. If you're out in Woodstock come visit us and we'll serve our grandchildren's favorite treat -- pretzels with honey.


Jamie said...

I am very concerned about our honey supply 😊 But, I'm glad you and dad are okay. Hopefully the fence solves the problem and no more stings. Definitely call us next time you have such a big project! We're always happy to help!

acardnal said...

So...I guess bees don't sting bears like they do Kreitzer humans? Perhaps their thick coat protects them but then why aren't they stung on the nose?

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

They may be, but not enough to deter them. The fence on the other hand can give a bear one heckuva a jolt, especially if he licks the bait on the wire (peanut butter with sunflower seeds on a piece of aluminum foil).