i'm starting my second year with 1 hive. i always use smoke and war a veil, but no gloves and short sleave shirt. my bees have been very gentle, but i don't want to take a chance and get stung in the face and end up dropping a frame and really pissing them off. the only stings i got last year were my own fault when i actually pinched them when removing frames.
- Smoke, Gloves, and a Veil is OK
- Smoke, no Gloves, and a Veil is OK
- No Smoke, Gloves, and a Veil is OK
- No Smoke, No Gloves, and a Veil is OK
- Smoke, Gloves, and NO Veil is foolhardy
- Smoke, no Gloves, and NO Veil is foolhardy
- No Smoke, Gloves, and NO Veil is foolhardy
- No Smoke, No Gloves, and NO Veil is foolhardy
I went out on a nice day this year and didn't see any activity with this one hive. Thought must me a dead out. I lifted the lid a little to look inside and out they came. Got one between the eyes and three on the neck. I can laugh about it now but it takes me about four days for swelling to come down. I keep telling myself that you don't go out without veil and smoke. Yep I was right again this year just didn't have it with me at time. I think I will just wait until I have my equipment next time before looking. LOL
Lesson learned, unclebee.
I like to err on the side of caution. I've never really understood the reasoning behind ... start working the hives without protection, and if they get too aggressive, go get the veil. It seems to me at that point it's too late, your face is already stung up. If I were one who enjoyed working them without a veil I would go at it in the opposite manner. Start working them first with the veil, and if they were in a very good mood that day, then take the veil off. To each his own I guess.
My bees are quiet but you get maybe one time in 50 when for no apparent reason a colony reacts really badly to being opened. Working routinely without a veil is daft although you could get away with it on a good day.
Working without gloves is fine as the worst that can happen is a sting or two on the fingers.
Stings around the eyes are not worth the risk.
I was checking some hive for purchase the other day. My normal routine is normally to remove the outer cover and smoke a little and then put on my veil. In any case it had gotten a bit cool so I figured I would put my hood on to keep me a bit warm. First hive I went to I popped the outer cover and about 30 bees flew right into my veil. I'm not saying that they would have stung me, but these were hungry (stressed) bees on a cool breezy day. I think I'm going to change my routine from this point forward and start with the veil on. I can only see out of one eye as it is.
When I have them I will use Nitrile gloves instead of my regular gloves. You get great feel, so you are less likely to crush bees. They can sting you through the nitrile, but I loose the freak out response that I get at times with no gloves.
For most of my hives, I don't use smoke until we get past the main flow. I use smoke on every hive once we hit the hot summer.
I went through 19 hives (some were overwintered Nucs) this last weekend and didn't light the smoker. A couple of hives did get a bit cranky, but I wear gloves and veil and wasn't stung. When I say 'went through', I mean a full inspection to the bottom board, cleaning the bottom board and putting it back together.
I don't know if anyone has actually tried to test whether it sets them back or not, but we have a saying on my family farm about things that 'don't help 'em any' that I apply to honey bees. It's hard for me to imagine that it helps them build up to get a lot of smoke, but easy for me to imagine that it sets them back at least a bit.
Plus, with my bees at least, smoke can make them act a bit squirrelly. Some of my hives start running all over the comb and make it difficult to do a quick, effective inspection (for me.)
That said, I recommend all new beekeepers to use smoke. Do any and everythign you can to be comfortable looking in your hive.
I can say with confidence that my hives are calm and behaved, usually. But I have also found that you cannot predict how the bees are going to react, no matter how good of a bee whisperer you think you are. I dont have that much experience keeping bees, so one could easily say that my opinions dont matter. I do have a lot left to learn; however, it only takes a season or two to learn that the bees cant always be trusted. It doesnt take a genius to figure that one out.
Also, my day-job is in an office environment. Besides being laughed at by my cube mates, I donít think I could perform my job with my eyes swelled shut. The last time I had a bad reaction, my lower arm swelled up so bad that I couldnít get it through the sleeve of my dress shirt. I didnít like having to explain to my boss why I had to break the dress code that week. He laughed and understood (one of my best customers), but I dont relish the idea of having to do it again. Oh and before anyone suggests that I should take more stings to desensitize myself to the effects of venom, the second thing that I found out about beekeeping is how variable my reaction to stings are. Most of the time itís no big deal but other times it is not OK.
jloftin60, using smoke (sparingly, not a smoke out:)) may or may not set them back, but they will eventually be back (usually in short order) to doing what they are programed to do. In my experience, it is much better to have a lit smoker ready to go, than wishing I had a lit smoker ready, and then having to stop operations to light one.
haha, its probably more likely my smell overpowers them.Quote:
Aerindel, is it because your body smell is scentless/invisible or is it your body?
In my short bee-experience, I find that bees needs to be trained for smoke. When I got my bees (feral/survivor) they overreact on smoke. They hated smoke and smoker - they've attacked the smoker! They also hated pine-needles. I change to pepper-tree leafs. So, my limited experience is that smoke is sort of signal to bees - to prepare for invasion. And they learned - first, they recognize inspection as an attack on their motherland, thus, they react aggressively. But with time, they learned that smoke basically does not mean motherland complete destruction... it is not pleasant, but if they will behave well, this "torture" will be over sooner...
I think, beekeeper's technique is very critical. "Improper" operation will make even very gentle bees crazy. It is also believed that the smoke blocks bees alarm pheromone - thus, with smoke, it is less likely to have a full-scale bee-attack when you damage a few bees.
The state of mood and other physical conditions of the beekeeper is also important. I think, bees sense your nervousness (probably smell of sweat etc). Protective gear makes some people more confident, less nervous. Bees never touch my wife (good!). If we sit together on the desk having tea and it's time for bee to show who is in charge (they are 20' from the deck) - she will always choose me! We have a friend - they choose her every time, she is visiting. They (bees) are not interested (thanks God) in the rest of my friends. Somebody, oldtimer or Jim Jyon perhaps, says that bees feel smell of fear.
I'd use smoke every time---I think it's more disruptive to get the hive 'angry' by not smoking them. Always smoke them before you try to open --otherwise it will be almost impossible to calm them down with smoke once they get 'snotty'
I have never used smoke, but it's because of the extreme fire danger around here. I'm fully suited up each and every time.
> Are there bees out there that gentle?
On some days...
>Even with a touch of smoke, my girls can be grouchy.
Some of that may be genetics. Some of that may be how graceful and smooth you are or aren't...
The problem with working without a veil is the day you learn you should have, you may get 60 stings to the face before you can react. I have stepped in a gopher hole and fallen dropping an entire box of bees that not only hit the ground hard, but fell to pieces because it hit so hard. It took me a few minutes to get up with my sprained ankle and even longer to get the frames put in another box. But it took the bees about 2 seconds to be all over me... I'm VERY glad I was wearing a jacket with a zip on veil...
**** gophers! Saturday I got pinged right next to my eye, the only one I can see out of before I even got started to do anything. I was probably 10 feet away from a hive. Hungry girls are a little fussy!