Well I learned some valuable lessons yesterday.
My friend's hives have been hit by bears twice this year. The first time she got everything back together and all was well with both queens surviving the attack.
Not so lucky the second time. The bear totally smashed one hive, but only tipped the second over.
Well she couldn't fix the one hive because her daughter was in the hospital, so I volunteered to put it back together and move it to my apiary that is bear free, so far.
First lesson - when putting back together a booming 3 deep hive that has been tipped over, wear everything you have!
I started with just a half jacket and gloves. I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes. Not a good idea.
Well it might have been if there hadn't been a slight complication.
As I was putting on my equipment her german shepard was taking exception to me being in the yard. I was halfway done putting on my equipment when I was attacked. Ever try to defend yourself against a big dog with a medium frame of undrawn plastic? It is surpisingly effective! But a little nerve wracking! Didn't get bit, but it was close enough to spook me.
Well after than I went to finish putting on my jacket and as I was still watching the dog I didn't completely close up the front of the jacket. but we'll get to that later!
So, 30,000 angry bees to my front, 1 big angry white dog behind me.
Tipped the hive up, reassembled it a little bit, the girls were REALLY worked up. As they should be tipped on their side for 3 days before I came to rescue them.
Then, Whap! Right on my adam's apple I felt the sting. Crap, crap, crap. Last time I got stung on the hand it swelled up like a golf ball and I felt my throat close up a little for about 3-4 hours. So how is a throat sting gonna treat me? She had crawled through the gap I left when I didn't completely secure the front of my jacket. ouch!
Lesson 2 - light the darn smoker every time! I didn't and I paid the price.
I quickly retreated, walked through the woods a little to get rid of the angry followers. Thankfully by this time my loud swearing at the dog had intimidated him to the point that he was hiding. So I returned to my truck, put on my full suit, lit my smoker and went back in. After I smoked the heck out of them they calmed down some, or at least couldn't smell the alarm pheremone of the dozens of bees stinging my hands and feet/ankles (remember the tennis shoes). They got me twice on the ankles. I was finally able to put everything together, pick up the destroyed equipment and salvage about half of the other hives frames.
I'll let 'em settle down a day or so and go move them. But you can bet I'll do several things differently.
Light the smoker
Wear my full suit with BOOTS and make sure the veil is completly on even if you are being attacked by a big dog because bees don't care if you were in a hurry while you put your stuff on!
Thankfully my reaction to the sting was virtually nonexistant. Just a slight pain on my adams apple when I swallow.
final lesson - always bring your epi pen. If I had had a bad reaction 20 minutes from a hospital with a throat sting it could have been touch or go without the epi pen. And nobody wants to go out unable to breath, covered in angry bees and being chewed on by a big angry dog!