Monday, July 30, 2007

Did you know that . . .

Bee stings are great for arthritis pain and other joint maladies? Though no doctors are prescribing getting stung by real bees because of the dangers associated with allergic reactions (nor do I recommend it), I feel smug about my joint health as I sit nursing three stings today and knowing that I endured eight stings last week. We harvested honey yesterday. My job was to bring the frames inside, cut the cappings, extract the honey, then jar it. Notice I didn't get anywhere near the hive, yet I still managed to get stung. Mr. W., who harvested the honey, didn't get a single sting. I resent his sting-free harvest.

Not really. Last week we had a hive calamity, which is why we are harvesting this week, and he was stung more times than we could count, so I'm really glad he didn't get stung. Friday, a week ago, we had a thunderstorm with much wind and a good bit of rain in a short period of time. The ground shifted under a hive with two brood chambers and three honey supers and the wind blew the whole hive into a pile. As chance would have it, this was our feisty hive. Some truly mad bees combined with a few careless mistakes trying to get the hive back together resulted in a bonnet full of bees that ended Mr. W's bee keeping night. My brother came in full gear (including a winter coat) to help me finish getting the hive protected from the elements and off the ground.

Working bees at night is not optimal. The next day was no better. I went to retrieve some equipment and frames left in our frenzy (and fear) and the bees were still furious. I left the stuff for a few more days. Sunday the bees were back to their normal mean personalities, so we decided to harvest honey to get some weight off the hive, make sure the hive was stable, and check hive health (see if the queen was still alive).

We harvested about 6 gallons of honey from the one hive. I know most people figure honey harvest by weight, but we don't have a scale. And I know my calculation of jarred honey is flawed because we put up some chunk honey and some extracted honey, but I still think 6 gallons of Spring/Summer honey from one hive is outstanding. We don't mind their feisty demeanor as much when they provide so well for our sweet tooth.


ZBTzahBTzoo said...

Oh, dear.

So glad none of you are allergic!

Over here, sting-wise: new house = new hornets! Yay! We have a nest the size of a rugby ball between the porch ceiling and my deck floor. I found some "poison free wasp & hornet killer," the active ingredient of which is mint oil. Smells great! We'll see how it works.

Yes, I realize bees and hornets are two different creatures :-)

Your queen -- she's okay?

Wisteria said...

You seem to be a magnet for hornets. Hope the oil works. Last year we had hornets find their way into our screened porch. Being that close to flying, stinging insects is scary, even if you aren't allergic. We sucked them up in the vacuum and released them outside, but not before they stung Princess twice.

Queen seems alright. Time will tell.

Angela, MotherCrone said...

I am thrilled to hear that your hives are thriving, despite the weather. That is a wonderful haul!

We have noticed an abundance of bees new our mock orange and butterfly bush that we haven't had all year. We wonder if they are just searching for food sources in the city. We are going to plant more shrubs to their liking, hoping to encourage more.

Kate in NJ said...

Great and beautiful harvest..sorry to hear of your many stings!
Hope your queen survives.

ZBTzahBTzoo said...

Here's a little update on the poison-free hornet killer for anyone who's interested: Smells great; not very effective. Oh, sure, it's fun to spray after nightfall, then run into the house and switch the porch lights on to watch the agitated swarms. In fact, it's almost worth the $4.99 to see such a frantic display.

I had to call an exterminator, as the nest had grown to twice the size of a football, and the hornets were becoming ever more territorial and aggressive. This new exterminator used pyrethrin, as opposed to the scarier twelve-syllable stuff the exterminator I hired last time used. His application was very precise compared to the last guy's, too, AND he removed the entire nest for disposal after he treated it. I think the kids can take their epi-pens out of their pockets now.

I wonder if lining my entire deck and porch with potted Chrysanthemums would work as a repellent... I like mums, and we could use a little color :-)