Wednesday afternoon. This is the time of year when my vegetable farming duties mount to such huge proportions that without meaning to, I find myself ignoring the bees almost completely! Each day I decide I will go check the bees tomorrow, but today I just need to... until several weeks go by and I feel terrible that I have ignored them so long. Adam's voice in the back of my head: "you can't wait to take care of your bees. Not next week, not next month, they need it now" didn't help. I even made up some sugar syrup one day in preparation for going out the following day. A week later, the sugar syrup was still sitting in the pan, growing mold.
I now realise that part of the problem is that I have too many hives. Maybe I should have stuck with just 2. Now, with 6, I know that any visit is going to take from 1 and 1/2 hours to 3, and that, because I haven't been out there for so long, it will be a lot of work.
So finally I decided I couldn't put them on the back burner any longer and headed out. My first impression was all was well with 5 of them as I saw bees busily coming and going, and many hanging out on the outside, staying cool, since the days are so warm.
I had brought some miticide strips with me to treat the hives for mites, and some sugar syrup and some pollen patties, but this was going to involve a lot of work, opening things up and taking frame after frame out... The two new hives looked like they were storing quite a bit of honey in their upper frames, and the queen was still busy laying eggs, but like Adam said a few weeks back, not too much evidence of stored pollen, so I added pollen patties to their hive.
The last few visits to the hives, Hive 1 was not laying down any extra honey in the honey super I put on it, while Hive 2 was filling their supers with honey. I was worried that by now Hive 2 would have eaten through all their honey, but they hadn't. Hive 1 still hadn't stored any extra honey in their honey super so I finally decided to take it off. Of the new hives, one looked like it was filling up quite a bit, so I put a super on that one, while the other one looked less full, so I didn't put a super on that one. By the time I was done, all the hives were different heights than when I arrived.
The queenless hive was in quite a state! It had grubs of some kind of insect feeding on their honey and on their pollen patty. So I removed the pollen patty. It was disgusting. I was going to add those bees to Hive 1, but then was unsure - would I be introducing something bad into Hive 1 because of the grubs? So in the end I just removed the grubs and put the lid back on.
My plan was to put a miticide strip in each hive, but unfortunately, I did not check that I had enough strips. I opened up the box and there were only 2. I was going to treat two hives and treat the rest when I could order more strips, but the instructions said you should treat all your hives at the same time. So I put the strips back in the box. While I was handling the strips, I had my right glove off to make it easier, and was standing about 2 feet away from one of the new hives. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a bee dive bombed me, landed on my exposed hand and stung me! I was not expecting it at all! I wiped it away, but could see the stinger was still embedded in my hand, pumping away, right over one of my veins! But since I still had my left glove on and was holding scissors and miticide bags, I couldn't do anything about it until I had put things down, walked away from the hive and taken off the glove. Then I pulled it out. Urrr!!! I was really upset. Stung again! And pointless too because in the end I wasn't going to put miticides in the hives today after all, so I needn't have removed my glove.
After getting stung, I finished up with what I was doing and then tidied up and went back to the house with everything, but I was feeling really jittery, foggy-brained and peculiar. This feeling lasted for 24 hours or so, as well as feeling groggy and out of it, plus my hand swelled up to twice its normal size! When I told my health practitioner, she was appalled (she is deadly allergic to bees). She said histamine can make you feel like that and that I should take some anti-histamine now. She was right. When I did, I began to think more clearly again. Took a few days for my hand to go down though. I was SO ANNOYED! We were leaving in a few days and I had SO MUCH TO DO!! Part of the reason I tend to put off working on the bees is that it takes 1 and1/2 hours out of my day at the very least, and this time it took 1 and 1/2 DAYS out of my busy schedule since I couldn't use my hand, and couldn't think clearly. And now I am going to be reluctant to work on the bees since the last two times I did, I got stung!