How do I relax w/bees?
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 38
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Columbus, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default How do I relax w/bees?

    Ok - I've wrestled with asking this question but looking for honest advice/feedback. New beek this year with 2 double deep hives from packages. Pretty much everything has gone well for the most part. Hives built up nicely; plenty of new comb, brood, etc... Have done inspections; added supers; hivetop feeders; done verroa washes; built some hardware myself; and did OAV treatments. Still cannot find the Queens but I know they're there, and getting prepped for coming winter. Took State Association bee classes; joined a beek club; visited commercial apiaries; read books; watch videos (joined this forum). Oh - and have figured out how to keep my smoker going (using pine straw).

    My problem is getting over nervousness when opening up the hives. I watch countless videos of guys in t-shirts and shorts with no veils tossing frames about and yaking away - not me at all. I've progressed from full suit/gloves to wearing cargo pants; jacket/hood; and nitrile gloves. I'm ok looking the frames over and whatnot, but when the bees get "busy" and start buzzing all over me I get antsy and start rushing thinking I need to close up asap. I've yet to inspect more than 3-4 frames per box before closing up to avoid the cloud in my face. Been stung and that's not a worry.

    1 - Is there a way to reduce MY stress/nervousness in this process? (just takes time?)
    2 - Is there a technique that may reduce the bee's stress so they are not as defensive? (inspect the frames away from directly over the hive?)
    3 - Is it reasonable to invite another seasoned beekeeper to "work with me" on the hives sometime?

    Thanks for any pointers to help.
    Newbeek starting w/2 Pkg hives (2019). Zone 6a Central Indiana

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    It takes time and experience to get comfortable with bees. Everyone’s schedule will be different. Keep doing what you’re doing and each year will get easier.
    There’s a way you move around bees that keeps them calm. Slow and deliberate is the way, no quick movement.
    Another point is to watch the bees in the hive after you open it up. If they are all lined up looking at you they’re getting defensive. Give them a little more smoke. You want them just doing their stuff without staring at you.
    Be careful opening the hive, that the top or inner cover doesn’t crack loose and jar the poor dears. Be careful propping things against the hive or bumping it. You don’t want them to know you’re there. When prying out a frame, brace it with the other hand so it doesn’t break loose and jar the bees or squish them against the other frames.
    When you get more accustomed to working your bees many of these movements will be second nature and you’ll slide in easily without much disturbance. What looks on videos like fairly swift and ordinary movements are really much more controlled and practiced, but you’re not experienced in watching the subtle differences so you don’t pick them up. The bees will teach you how to move.
    Err on the side of too slow and careful and you’ll catch on.
    Happy beekeeping!
    Megan Hughes

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
    Posts
    135

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Get a beer, glass of wine, cup of tea or a cool glass of water and put the drink on top of the hive. Then put that chair behind or beside the hive and lean back and enjoy that drink sitting on the hive. It's easy! Oh but I just read the rest of your post. It brought back memories of those same emotions opening my first hives. Over time you will learn to read the temperament of the bees and act proactively to keep them calm as you work. Listen to the tonal changes and watch how they move on the frames and yes a line of eyes looking up at you can spell impending danger. Unlesss your hive is an overly defensive group they should be able to stay calm.
    Sometimes they will be very calm until you get to working with the frames near the entrance with guard bees.
    Personally I feel like I became a much better beekeeper when I gave up the gloves and accepted the random sting. In August I broke down a few hived making splits wearing shorts and a tee shirt. But occasionally a hive will get hot and I will duck inside for a suit. I'm more careful and aware without protection. A few weeks ago I felt a tickle and found a queen walking up my leg!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Bellevue, NE, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    I too was pretty jittery/nervous when I first started keeping bees. Over time I am pretty relaxed when I'm doing the normal routine. It's when surprises happen that I get anxious now. Things I haven't seen before. Twice this year surprises happened and was on the verge of a panic attack, One was on a deep inspection of my pissy hive and I was almost done. I smoked them before putting the last 2 frames in and I must have scared them but it was like a river of bees going out of the front entrance. I decided that was it so I put em back together quickly then just observed. They returned to normal. The second time was when I was marking a queen for my first time. Long story short she fainted. I thought I killed her. That's all on another thread. How I keep calm is I have a game plan before I open any of them up. I know what I need to see, pay attention to details, get in and get out, especially on my pissy hive. Another thing that helps me is I don't focus to much on the queen. If I see her, cool, if not I always look for eggs. Also I leave the more pissy hive for last to keep me from getting flustered and lose my concentration on the nice hives and make mistakes. On my nice hives Ive opened them up twice within an hour with nothing on and no smoke, my more pissy hive I use a jacket/veil. I don't take chances on them.
    Hope this helps. Try some of them out. Let us know what has helped you and ones that don't.
    "Never slow down, just go around." Me, until i started keeping bees.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Bellevue, NE, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Williamson View Post
    Get a beer, glass of wine, cup of tea or a cool glass of water and put the drink on top of the hive. Then put that chair behind or beside the hive and lean back and enjoy that drink sitting on the hive. !
    I was always told by my first mentor to not drink and work the bees. When you exhale your breath contains carbohydrates and bees see you as food. I dont know this personally because I just took his word for it. If anyone has done this with no ill affects I'd love to know! This way I can do it! LoL.
    "Never slow down, just go around." Me, until i started keeping bees.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Byron, Il, USA
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Wear ear muffs. The sound of the bees is what get me jumpy. When I had a somewhat hot hive I'd slip on the muffs and it made a world of difference. Plus, you know they can't sting your ears!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,447

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Meghues View Post
    Thereís a way you move around bees that keeps them calm. Slow and deliberate is the way, no quick movement.
    [...]
    Err on the side of too slow and careful and youíll catch on.
    +1 ... before opening a hive "think Tai Chi".
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,597

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    My experiance tells me bees are able to pick up what I call fearmones. I can be standing in a a bee yard with a million bees flying during a nectar flow and be fine, a visitor who has fear will be literally under attack. As you get more comfortable so will your bees and there is a point of symbiosis and recognition which will calm you both. The magic of watching these amazing creatures, the aromas of the beehive, the beautiful sunny day, these thing will sink deep in your psyche and you’ll be hooked for life. Some days the girls are a bit stingy and you’ll know them. As to protective gear, I worked for years without gloves and just a veil. I work a lot of hives every day as I do it for a living. I now wear a pollinator jacket and gloves almost all the time as I came to realize I was taking more stings and want to avoid the “magic sting” and the allergic reaction which would rob me of this passion.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,733

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    The above advice is all good. Zen moments. I finally was able to do a crush and strain a month ago of a cross combed deep, literally thousands of bees flying around trying to get the honey before I did, all without a suite or veil. Picked up the bees that kept gettin into the honey with no problem. Took one sting when I picked up a piece of comb and did not see or feel the bee under my finger.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sisters, Oregon
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    2nd year and understand completely. A way to reduce bee stress is to use a quiet box and hive drapes. The idea is to protect the frames and boxes set outside from the open air. It keeps them in the box and fewer in the air. Billy Davis has a Youtube video about quiet boxes. I use flour sack cloths for hive drapes and cover boxes taken off the hive. It works.

    For my stress- have a goal going in and talk my way through the inspection. Out loud. So Iím literally talking to myself while Iím out there. It helps me concentrate. There are times in the year when a few frames is all you need to inspect anyway. Fall is a time when I dig in very little if I know Iím queen right.

    Also bought a great bee jacket and feel much more comfortable knowing I canít get stung through it. When they are buzzing around my head I tell them ďyouíre very good at your workĒ without fear. Getting good at using smoke helps a great deal as well. Thereís an art to it.

    When I was learning to ride my 17.2 warmblood young horse there were days when I wondered if I would ever get over the fear. Someone told me that such things are solved by time in the saddle.

    Beekeeping is a time in the saddle thing.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Richmond, va
    Posts
    108

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    I agree with the good suit. I invested in a good 3 ply vented jacket, not really for the stings, but the venting, being in richmond, va.
    It gives me the confidence that if they do get really pissy, or I make a mistake and bang a frame (or drop one.. ) I'm not gonna get pounced on.

    Having said that, and this is time/season dependant, I prefer to wear only a veil, and no gloves, usually with just a tshirt and shorts. Started doing this this year and it has really helped me to move ninja like over the frames and being able to feel the frames helps a great deal. It was frightening taking off the gloves the first few times, and I got a couple of stings, but those are much fewer now because being unprotected like that reminds you to be very calm and slow with the inspection. I Often can do inspections without use of smoker, if it is a quick and light inspection

    Having said that: I ALWAYS have my good bee jacket ready to put on. I ALWAYS wear a veil. And I ALWAYS light a smoker.

    You will learn to read your bees. The sound of the hum. The stare of a thousand eyes. The thump of a bee hitting your veil. I've had times where I've done full inspection on three hives, with nary a poof of smoke and just bees milling around, but the fourth hive will be completely different. I never hesitate to put on the heavy jacket at any time. I usually go from bare hands, to nitrile gloves, to leather gloves, as needed.

    come Fall, Winter and early spring, though, they will be pissy almost all the time, so the jacket just goes on.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,897

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Champy View Post
    ....... I watch countless videos of guys in t-shirts and shorts with no veils tossing frames about and yaking away ......

    Thanks for any pointers to help.
    Forget this non-sense and the pop-culture gimmicks.
    Yeh, those guys are cool and whatever.
    Their bees are 0% defensive, let them be proud about it.
    Or they handle tiny nucs - which by definition are 0% defensive - nothing magical there.
    They will never post a video where they had a bad day either.

    Now do what fits YOU the best and be RELAXED about it.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,897

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    Wear ear muffs. .....!
    Bad idea.
    What IF someone actually needs your urgent attention?
    What IF they can not get close either.
    What are they to do? Throw rocks at your?

    You will basically learn to tune out the details and focus on the task on hand.
    I just talk to myself if have to - what I am doing, and why I am doing it, and what I should do now because something JUST happened.

    Lost all my volunteer family helpers by now - no one is interested in my hobby anymore (outside of the honey).
    Just myself to talk to - which a very good therapy, if you think about it.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    193

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    More power to those who go suitless, but I wear a full suit anytime the hives the top comes off. Period. Nothing relaxes me better than having a barrier between me and them.

    When they are not open, I enjoy being around the hives in whatever I am wearing already. I will do non-disruptive work on and around the hives without a suit and without problems.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,743

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Do what you have to do to be comfortable with YOUR bees. There can be a world of difference in the temperament of different bees. What you are doing to the hives makes a big difference too in what you can get away with.

    I think some of the video is rather misleading about what to expect. I will guarantee you could not get away with shorts, flip flops and no shirt with the bees that are common around where my sons bees are. With mine under ideal conditions and slow deliberate handling, you could. If you have to get a lot done in a hurry or it is cloudy you will be a happier camper if you suit up.
    Frank

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    5,583

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Champy View Post
    , but when the bees get "busy" and start buzzing all over me I get antsy and start rushing thinking I need to close up asap. I've yet to inspect more than 3-4 frames per box before closing up to avoid the cloud in my face.
    This is probably the most important time to implement the zen philosophy that's been suggested. Relax,"slow down", and don't rush. Wear whatever amount of gear you are comfortable with. I've been doing this for a while and I'm sure not in the tee shirt and flip flop group. Nitrile gloves and a suit or jacket is what I'm comfortable with. I don't need to prove anything to anyone, just want to be relaxed working my bees and enjoy the experience. Everyone has their own personal level of comfort and fear. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing, enjoy your bees.

    If there are dozens of bees incessantly pinging your veil that's another scenario, but it's common to have clouds of bees buzzing around in your face when doing inspections.

    I usually remove boxes and set them behind me and will inspect frames there. It seems to help reduce some of the guard bee activity vs. inspecting frames at the hive location.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Columbus, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default

    Thanks for all the advice. Forgot to mention that I’m blind in one eye and mostly deaf too. W/o my hearing aids in I hear none of the buzzing which actually helps most times but also cannot hear if they get riled up. Hence my avatar and I named my new hobby “Blind Bee Honey”... my bottle labels. Ha!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Newbeek starting w/2 Pkg hives (2019). Zone 6a Central Indiana

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,148

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Champy View Post
    Been stung and that's not a worry.
    maybe not for you champy, but the smell of even one sting in the air prompts the remaining bees toward defensiveness, which is amplified even more with each successive sting.

    that smell can linger in any of your protective gear like gloves ect., so be mindful of that.

    avoiding that first sting goes a long way to keeping the colony calm, that and avoiding crushing any bees.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bonn, Germany
    Posts
    384

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Champy View Post
    ... tossing frames about and yaking away ...
    Do not trample the bees underfoot.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,447

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Champy View Post
    1 - Is there a way to reduce MY stress/nervousness in this process? (just takes time?)
    I reckon that's been covered pretty well.

    2 - Is there a technique that may reduce the bee's stress so they are not as defensive?
    Well, apart from the "slow and deliberate" movements - some folks swear by the use of two cloths, which cover the frames leaving a gap between them for the frame which is being removed. The absence of full exposure is also claimed by Top Bar Hive users to reduce defensiveness.
    I don't use this technique myself as it sounds a tad 'fiddly', and my bees are reasonably well-behaved most of the time - but I'd say it might be a technique worth trying. The only time I cover a box with a cloth is when I need to walk away from an open hive for more than a few minutes, as it certainly stops the bees from becoming 'pi$$y' and helps prevent opportunistic robber scouts from helping themselves.

    3 - Is it reasonable to invite another seasoned beekeeper to "work with me" on the hives sometime?
    Well - why not, assuming you can find one willing to help out ? Then you could watch their technique close-up. A good idea.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •