How do I relax w/bees? - Page 2
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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    I find it useful to always use a quiet box (or boxes if it's going to be a "big" or very detailed inspection) for any frame not in its box or my hands. I cover up every open box with a political sign, unless my hands are in it. these two steps seem to keep the bees quiet and calm(er.)

    And I generally work the bottom box first, not down through the top box(es). I remove and restack (close by) the upper boxes - work the bottom one, then move the next-up one back on top of the bottom one for whatever work I plan to to in it, and so on. My stacks are, at their smallest, three deep boxes, plus a medium pollen box as the lowest one, though that one almost never needs more than cursory attention.

    And a I rarely go to the trouble of looking at all the frames in a box. I pull the second or third one from the outside out , and then look at a further 4 or 5, then call it a day. So, I am basically looking at the middle-ish frames, not the exterior ones in my 10-frame boxes.

    I was very stressed by working the bees at first - I dreaded having to do it actually. But I found, over time, that my deep curiosity about their fascinating lives overcame that stress. Now I find it, if it's not actually relaxing, it's at least so intensely focused that it clears my mind in a way I look forward to. The times I go back to being stressed about are when I know am tardy about checking on them and therefore it is more destructive to get the boxes separated. The key to avoiding that, I think, is to tightly control how many colonies you keep and match that number to your daily life and its other commitments.

    Nancy

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,519

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    I opened up a new yard this year and the land owner is fascinated with the bk’n process and likes to (sometimes much to my chagrin) yak it up. His property, looks like pretty prime pickings for the bees, so why not talk bees with him, he might be buying nucs from me next year lol.
    Anyway he made the the remark that I talk to the bees! I said sure why not, I tell them I’m here to do my job, work with me and we’ll get thru this. You talk to your horses don’t you?
    It does seem nutty, but in a way it seems to calm them down and gives me a way to vent if things are not going according to plan (the hive tool has grown legs and wandered off to neverland etc).
    Rod

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,183

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    My first year of beekeeping I felt the same way. I was nervous every time I went out. I was sure I would do something really wrong, I would cause the bees to come after me in force, I was going to kill the queen, etc. etc. etc. Then year 2 came along and suddenly, I was not the least bit worried. All my anxiety just disappeared. Time will make it easier.

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,885

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Get a full ventilated suit. Wear leather gloves (just regular goatskin or doeskin gloves tucked into the sleeves). Rubber band your pant legs. Light up the smoker. You'll soon realize that the bees in the air are not necessarily trying to "get" you. As you get more relaxed, you can try less and less protective gear. Try leaving off the gloves. When you are comfortable with that, try just a jacket with a zip on veil. When you are comfortable with that, try just a veil and a tee shirt. Some bees you will never be able to work in a tee shirt... but you will find that out back when you weren't wearing gloves...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,173

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    All good advice. For me, the best is to 1. Have a purpose/goal in the inspection. It helps greatly if you keep a journal to know what you want to check on. 2. Use a quiet box to keep frames in and cover boxes that you are not working. I use Jester boxes that nucs come in for a quiet box and cloth covers. 3. Smoke the hive. Just a few puffs below and under the lid. 4. Move slowly and deliberately. 5. If the bees are truly aggressive and you really do not have to do something, close it up and come back another day. J

  7. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    242

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    When inspecting hives, be mindful of weather and time; avoid dreary, damp weather (rain threatening), and inspect after most foragers are gone.

  8. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,885

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    One of the things I love about beekeeping is how it forces me to slow down. Not just physically, but mentally. Zen is a good description.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeschangeyourlife.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    667

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Like others have said, relax, go slow, and keep your smoker going!! Just recently I went out to my hives, to take off something, can't remember what. I figured, heck it's a nice day, the bees are busy, I'm only going to be a second, I won't take any smoke.....................WRONG!! They were on me like Stink on Sheet, took me totally by surprise. I went back to my supply shed, stoked up the smoker, smoked them, and all was right with the world. What a HUGE difference a little bit of smoke made, so keep that smoker handy, you don't need to use much, but when they seem to be getting agitated give them a puff or two.

    I was the same in the beginning, more nervous that I was disrupting them, than them getting pissed and bombarding me. Good luck!
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints.

  10. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    2,413

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Get a full ventilated suit. ...
    Exactly. I consider my bee suit an invisible shield so I can get close and watch the bees, etc. without having to worry about it. Why stress yourself out? You can always peel off the layers if and when you get more comfortable.

  11. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    313

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    I'll add two cents to the abundant pile of dimes and nickels. DO work right over the hive - you don't want a queen dropping off a frame and into the grass at your feet (has happened to me once. Miracle I didn't step on her.) Better if the queen is on the frame that she drops down into the hive. And DO invite an experienced beek to work with you. That was very helpful for me when I first started. And I was super nervous my first year - felt like I wanted to scream every time I opened a hive. But the next year I was able to work without gloves, and then the next year, was comfortable knowing what seasons the bees are more gentle so I could work without a veil. I use very little smoke. You're doing great! Hope your bees make it through the winter.

  12. #31
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Gahanna Ohio USA
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Give yourself time to get comfortable, you are still getting into the groove, and like someone else said, you don't have answer to anyone whether you choose to work the hives commando or full gear.
    I ALWAYS wear suit, gloves, beeproof hat, two pairs of socks: all the stuff, even though it's hot to wear. Before I retired, my hands were my paycheck, and I was quite protective of them (and the rest of me!). Still how I am comfortable when working the hives, even though this year my bees are just mellow as can be.
    Fun to see how many of us talk to the girls when we work.
    And after 9 years, I have finally learned that what seems like a half hour in the bee yard usually is at least 2-3 hours.
    Enjoy your new hobby!

  13. #32
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Hampshire County, MA USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Forget this non-sense and the pop-culture gimmicks.
    ...
    They will never post a video where they had a bad day either.
    Actually, this guy: https://youtu.be/U7FD5k0Tr8I

    Champy, like others have said, comfort comes mostly from time with the bees. And hey, what's wrong with protective gear? I've watched a local beekeeping guru many times and after a whlie I realized that although he doesn't wear a veil or gloves, he always wears a jacket. Fifty plus years of experience in action; remarkable watching him move so fluidly that the bees could care less that he is there. Two years of exerience for me and my bees definitely care that I'm there so I go with a jacket and a veil, and often nitrile gloves.

  14. #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    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.
    Fully agree. Calm hive can become nasty after one sting. Smoking the sting site can help; better yet, smear a little Vaseline over it, or, even better yet, some Vicks salve (make your own cheaply by whipping wintergreen oil into vaseline). Keep a dab inside one of those screw-top lip balm containers, in your pocket.

  15. #34
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    783

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Move slow and gently around the bees. Be very careful when pulling frames out of hive, not to bump them around. Use your smoker properly, watch the guard bees on tops of frames. Give em a light puff when you see the eyeing you. A puff between boxes, and when opening lids. Always wear your gear. Let the kewl ones go without the gear, as yours might not be so nice to you. Also, time and experience will mostly come to you. And remember, you can practice a million times, but perfect practice is best. Get someone experienced to hang out with you a bit. To build your confidence in yourself. Good luck, and hope this helps... rich

  16. #35
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    woodland, wa usa
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Champy View Post
    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.
    Me, generally, am suited up with jacket, veil, and goatskin gloves to do my inspections. I care not what anyone says about being dressed with less to do bees. I use PPE, period. And I generally do not smoke my hives to do inspections, because I generally do not need to, period. But those times when I pop the top, my bees kick into ultra defensive mode, my body gets the heebie jeebies, and drops a load of adrenaline, that's my sign. It is time to smoke. So I do and that has "always" made the difference, allowing me to go ahead and inspect now essentially non-defensive smoked bees.

    Yes, when I am doing my bees, I get the heebie jeebies, once I know they are in their heightened state, and I know it is only a matter of time before one (a few) attempt to sting through my jacket, or elsewhere, (which they can do easily, they thankfully just don't). I hate stings, period. And the single occasional sting, well I'm just OK with that, but once they've got an armada buzzing around my head, pure and simple, I get the heebie jeebies. Smoke can be your friend!

    "relaxed with bees"

    Nope, I'm often not at all, but after near 20 years of dealing with these dastardly little buggers, I have a much better sense of if I'm in dangerous territory, or not.

  17. #36

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    I think you are doing pretty good.

    One thing I do to make beekeeping less confrontational is

    I set up a table about 10 feet behind my hives.

    I remove entire boxes, either one frame at a time or as a box, and transfer them to the table.

    I am not as young as I was when I was younger, and while I can lift and carry a deep full of honey and bees, I prefer not to.

    If one frame at a time, I have a couple of spare deeps to put the frames in.

    I do what I need to at the table, and then reassemble the hive.

    Especially if I can leave one box at the hive location, this pretty much eliminates the great cloud of witnesses from where I am working.

    The bees in the boxes on the table are mostly house bees, which are docile and tend not to fly. They don't know they've been moved.

    The guard bees and foragers are over at the hive location. After a few minutes, there are no bees flying around where I am working. It is pretty amazing.

    With only two hives, you could do this pretty easily, I think.

    You will want a bottom board, or something similar, so you don't squash a lot of bees when you set the boxes down.

    When you are done with a box, you can set it on the ground on its end, leaning against the table.

    I do this when looking for swarm cells, when I need to find the queen, or when I need a thorough inspection for some other reason.

    I don't mind the bees flying around me, but this way I can take my time and usually not get stung. I also think it is less stressful for the bees.

    Something that might help your personal anxiety level is a chair. Put the chair in front of your hives and sit in it. You will probably need a veil, unless your bees are really sweet. Mine will let me sit for about 5 minutes before they evict me if I'm not wearing a veil. Just sit and watch the bees. Sometimes, when they are taking their play flights, there will be a big cloud of them. Hundreds of fuzzy little new bees flying around. You can learn a lot about the condition of your hives by watching what is going in and out of the entrance.

    I hope that is helpful.

  18. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bonn, Germany
    Posts
    386

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by A Novice View Post
    ... a chair. Put the chair in front of your hives and sit in it. ... Just sit and watch the bees. Sometimes, when they are taking their play flights, there will be a big cloud of them. Hundreds of fuzzy little new bees flying around. You can learn a lot about the condition of your hives by watching what is going in and out of the entrance. ...
    Beautiful words. Beautiful moments. Sounds like this unusual interpretation of the orange blossom special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5_5SDkRPZ8

  19. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,908

    Default Re: How do I relax w/bees?

    Agreed. It is how I relax after working the bees. The buzzing lulls me into a peaceful state and it is cool to see the bees forage the sweat off your hands. Yes, I have fallen asleep while sitting in my chair, just don't tell anyone.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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