CalPolyAlli Bee Thread
About 20 years ago a family friend Ret USAF COL who had his head smashed in by some thugs and got severely brain injured asked me to help him rob his bees. Now I was not too cool with this because one day in High School through no fault of my own I got stung on my head by 3 bees at once. Now he had only one bee suit setup and graciously let me wear it. As for Barney, well he went in long pants and a shirt. No need to worry about hair as I never knew him to have anything longer than regulation crew cut. I think he got cut every 2 weeks. As his speech was that of a person who had a stroke, it was quite humorous in hind-sight later that day, as he tried to tell me what to do. For Barney I know it was frustrating as all get out. As a kid I hated going to their house, he was loud, had a big voice and scared the be-Jesus out of me, and he never stopped talking. Of course I couldn't appreciate him as a child. He flew B-17's in the big war and had his full up flight suit - 100% sheepskin more on that later. Now he had the words but could not get them out and at times his frustration showed. Somehow he kept himself in check that day and was a young adult that sealed my friendship with him and anytime I got some free time I would head over to his house and we would go and get ourselves into some trouble. Back to the bees.
So we get some burlap to put in the smoker and light it off. He tells me how to smoke the bees and off we go after getting the first comb out I ask B if the bees are supposed to be dying. No he says. Well I think I am burning them with the smoker and why isn't the smoker smoking? Well we didn't dampen the burlap and every time I hit the bellows it was actually fanning very hot air rather than smoke & I was toasting the poor critters. So we stopped and remedied that situation. So here I am in my suit I have taped all the openings, I am wearing my thick gauntlet motorcycle riding gloves as his gloves had a hole in them, knee high riding boots as I didinít want to get stung through by blue jeans and through the jump suit, and I am robbing the bees. Buzz buzzz buzzz everywhere. Oh and it was one of those low 90ís Sacramento sunny days. Barney doesnít get stung and neither do I. Humm I think, he just played for 2 hours with the bees and didnít get stung. Get that brain thinking, maybe I donít need this space suit after all. Anyway, it is not like I will go into shock when I get stung.
So we pull out most of the combs and insert blank ones. Then you process it. Use a heat knife to decap the combs, put the comb in a salad spinner and spin out the honey. A variation is to decap cut the comb out, put it in a jar and then pour spun honey in the jar. If you want you could filter it because there will be some Ďforeigní stuff in it. I prefer the raw unadulterated honey. Never have I eaten so much honey in one day
The story now
So ever since then I have lessened my fear about the stinging monster and actually have plants that are attractive to bees and usually have 2 sources of water for them nearby. When we moved to Garden-A there was a monster bumble bee that would come by in the early morning, big sucker. I have not seen him this year. About 2 years ago I started noticing one or two bees dead on the driveway or languishing. Didnít really know what was going on but I would pick them up and put them in the shade near some water and a bit of sugar/water. Usually they wouldnít survive. It is only this year that the media and the bee societies/orgs have been able to get their message of the die-off out. As far as I can tell there are a few things that may be contributing, imported mites - I should have pulled out the pic I saw of one that was just behind the head of one bee very small but visible, and some sort of fungus or virus, and a whole bunch of speculation.
So Calpolyalli - other than not using pesticides on our plants, having a source of very shallow water what else can the average person do for the honey bee?
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