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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
    Posts
    1,817

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    The thing that I dont understand is the natural aspect of no protection. If someone strives to keep their hives pesticide and antibiotic free that is natural, same thing with leaving honey instead of feeding sugar.

    But the notion that no protection = "more" natural is just too far out there for me to wrap my mind around.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Jonesborough,Tennessee
    Posts
    183

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    I wear a veil even when filling feeders.

    I have been stung in the eye lid once and have been cured for life.

    Stupid hurts.

    PPE was designed with a purpose in mind.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
    Posts
    1,817

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Mann View Post
    I wear a veil even when filling feeders.

    PPE was designed with a purpose in mind.
    You bring up a good point. Anyone who has worked in heavy industry, manufacturing, construction, etc. knows about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). In my line of work, I can walk out into an undeveolped piece of open prairie in the middle of Kansas without a hard hat, steel toed boots, safety glasses, and gloves. That may be going a little overboard from a safety aspect, but whe assessing the potential dangers in working with bees, leather gloves and a veil should be standard issue.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,572

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    I've been a member of this forum long enough to see a very dramatic flux in the average experience level of the posters. I have also seen a dramatic shift in the makeup of our local club. No doubt these shifts are mostly in part due to CCD and people's desire to make a difference, which is a very good thing. I do however, struggle sometimes with the advice I hear given by these relatively inexperienced beekeepers related to personal protection, the use of smoke, and acceptable proximity of hives to others. I recall a post made a good while back something like: I want to get a hive on my 20x40 urban lot and wondering if the bees will bother my neighbor's pool on the other side of the fence or the elementary school 50 yards away. Or the one about the retirement community that was complaining about the 15 hives on the tiny urban lot right next to their homes... I've been working bees long enough to completely appreciate that despite our strong desire to ascribe some benevolent characteristics to these creatures, they are, at their core, wild creatures honed by evolution to defend and protect their colony. Sure that package of newly installed bees is likely going to be gentle for most of the spring, but when populations get very large, add in a dearth, and things can change dramatically. There are simply too many variables in the lives of these wild creatures for me to buy into the “Benevolent Bee” concept. Sure, at times I will use minimal gear when working my bees, but only when I have a very good sense that risks are minimal – sometimes I’m right and other times not.

    And no, I don’t admire the old country boys opening up the bee tree without veils or gloves. Not at all, and no more than I would admire someone who base jumps off sky scrapers or handles venomous snakes without proper safety gear.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Galt, CA
    Posts
    881

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    When handling things like all the critters I caught in Az while on vacation this month and my kids ask "can that bite?" I would tell them "anything with a mouth can bite". Same goes for bees, if it has a stinger, it can sting. People ask me "aren't you afraid to get stung?" I just tell them "it's part of the job, like getting a splinter if you work with wood, do you want the splinter? No, but you know you're going to get one once in a while, it just expected."

    C2

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasBeekeeper View Post

    I did alter my behaviors a little last year for teaching. My students from the first year do not wear veils because I set the example the first year. I wear a veil for class ever since.
    Gary, you touched on a good point, I think it's important to set the right example for who ever may be watching us. I always make a point to wear a veil while catching swarms in public because I don't want some fool kid (like I was) getting the wrong idea.

    Don

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    Don and Gary,

    That's the key here I think.

    The expert has to think about all the experience (good and bad) that got him or her to the point of being qualified to teach others about handling bees. I think that's where the stereotypes are born - where an expert or perceived expert is being watched by impressionable, and newly interested beginners. This is where the establishment of the right beginner practices is key. Once that beginner builds the experience to be an expert, then they can safely judge when they can ditch the precautions.

    But too often the 'expert' in question is actually a relatively inexperienced person of a few seasons (or less) who has created some YouTube videos, or a blog, or even started offering courses. And they begin to propagate practices that don't give the bee her proper respect. And practices that don't protect a beginner from themselves.

    But then there's the perspective that "getting burned" is the best way to learn... and a lot of people follow that too...

    Adam

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,492

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    My brother has a friend who worked for a big beekeeper in Nebraska some years back, and he handles bees without any protection. Gets stung some, though.

    I hate being stung, since I tend to swell up quite a bit, but I will do a quick look inside the hive or observe my bees at work with no protection IF they are ignoring me when I approach the hive. Only got stung once, and that was when I swatted a bee that was flying around my face thinking it was a buffalo gnat. Big mistake, not repeated.

    My brother got stung a few times in the face once when helping me with my hive -- they hit him for some reason, not my nephew or me.

    So now when I open up the hive I dress up in the veil and gloves and light the smoker. May not use much or any smoke, and the gloves are overkill, but I'm not all that excited about getting nailed.

    My bees, so far, seem to accept me pulling their hive apart with no problems. The first couple of months they would "examine" me working in the garden, about 40 feet from the hive. I'd get a bee or two that would just not leave me alone, zig-zagging in front of me (always, not behind or to the side) until I let it land one me. A few seconds of "sniffing" and off the bee would go. Since then, they ignore me.

    Who knows, maybe they did "memorize" me and pass the information on that I'm OK, but I'm not going to take a chance on getting stung all over if they decide to be nasty. I have found that they are really cranky when it's just about to rain, so I leave them alone then.

    I do believe that gentle handling goes a long way with gentle bees in keeping them calm. I'd not go so far as to say they are benevolent -- all you have to do is pinch one to get stung, and that will likely get the rest of them riled up!

    Peter

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Garfield, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    108

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    We often sit in the yard under shade trees within 10-15 feet of the hives in our front yard with our grandchildren and the bees rarely even act like we exist beyond sniffing around our glasses of tea from time to time BUT there are times it's best not to linger.

    My uncle rarely wore anything but overalls and a long sleeved shirt and used a smoker on all the hives he had - but He did put on a veil when we worked the few hives of little black bees. I did that myself until I was in my late 20's when I, in the space of one summer, learned the hard way things can change fast.

    I've worked bees with people who didn't wear veils, gloves, bee suits etc who made fun of me when I would be all decked out. My response was / is if you've ever had bees crawl up your nose and pop you (I have and good luck scraping the stinger out), in your ear (I found it's another hard to reach place) or sting you in the corner of the eye, you'll probably change your mind too.

    I taught my kids and grandchildren how to use all the gear and the reasons why it is used and insist we are all geared up before we open any of my hives -even their "laid back" ones in the front yard - because as the youngest says (over and over and over again -you get the idea) "ya never know".

    Now, if, after they get older they decide to go against what they've learned and take the chance by not doing as they've been taught, well, that's what people do isn't it? The bees will teach them.

    Bees are a lot of hard work if you want to keep enough of them alive and can be informative, instructive and can be fun to mess with. We have a lot of kids come over from our church to observe how we work bees and anyone is welcome to come and help / observe our bees - but - when we are going to open hives they can suit up, wear a veil, or go home because, one thing bees are not is "warm and cuddly" or benevolent, I don't care how "nice" you are to them.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,104

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    It seems to me that a lot of people fail to use protective gear.

    I grew up riding a bicycle and a skateboard and skates etc. without a helmet. We didn't have seat belts in the car (they didn't come with them). We didn't have child seats, we stood up on the seat and hit the dashboard whenever there was a sudden stop.

    We lived. But that doesn't mean it was wise.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    cumberland me
    Posts
    229

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    Yes, the smoker should be lit and the beekeeper and observers should be in uniform-so to speak. I know what you mean about attaching human emotions to the animal/insect kingdom. Once I was at a house. Three dogs were making such a racket in a back room. Someone yelled to quiet those dogs. I grabbed four milk bones and threw the milk bones into the room and closed the door. I mistakenly thought the alpha dog would grab two milk bones and the remaining two dogs would each take a milk bone. This is not what happened. I threw the milk bones into the room and shut the door. A terrible ear shattering noise came from the room and then all was quiet. Well, to make a long story short-one dog had all four bones, the other two dogs had none.
    Animal Farm was required reading in High School. Remember how those dogs were playing poker and smoking cigars in the back room? Oh, well the book Animal Farm is only fiction, or is it?
    Last edited by linn; 04-07-2013 at 09:23 PM. Reason: Animal Farm

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greene, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    Guilty as charged Adam;

    I believe you are absolutely correct. Knowledge, common sense, and respect for the dangers that are a reality, are the attributes that are needed to be a real Bee Whisperer. The initial picture you painted was also accurate. That was me in the beginning, and once in a while I still find myself taking chances, but these days there is at least a level of knowledge regarding the importance of caution and appropriate public impression.

    I recall an incident where I once collected two swarms from a ball park, in front of numerous families and children, wearing only a T-shirt, no hood, no gloves, and scooping the bees with my bare hands. I gave the impression that this was as easy and safe as playing with angle worms. How stupid I feel today when I think of all those that I mislead that day. The impression I left in the minds of others could someday put them in harms way.

    Although I still take pride in the name “Bee Whisperer;” the professionalism for this field, the respect for others, the reality regarding what a sting can do, and the awareness and admiration of the bee’s potential aggressiveness, have matured my approach to the field of Apiculture. Yes, I still love the idea of fostering an intimate spiritual relationship with creatures and nature, but being aware is being alive. Thank you for an awesome post.
    No one famous.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,058

    Thumbs Up Re: The Bee Whisperer and the Benevolent Bee

    Idealists and pragmatists have clashed in world view for a long, long time. Beekeepers run the gamut in philosophy of life, with every conceivable personality combination imaginable. I have more than one personality. In some personalities, I wear personal protective equipment and in some I don't. Depends on my mood(s).
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

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