Let's talk about stings 'secretly", just so you can maintain your superior
masculinity and nobody will ever know that you hate to get stung. Get stung,it
makes you more appreciative of your expertise after you learn to work your
bees using little or no protective clothing and getting FEW or NO stings!
Don't lose faith now- let me teach you how to enjoy your bees, and make
you fell 9' tall! Get rid of all those anthropomorphic ideas about bees,
and depend on your knowledge of bee behavior gained from your understanding
of the genetic stimuli of apis mellifera provided by their Maker.
Let me put all that in "plain talk". Since our honeybee is a social insect
in contrast to being individualistic, it's whole emphasis in life is based
upon colony survival rather than self survival; but I believe that she accepts
her own death if need be to accomplish this genetic goal.
Hence, she is not aggressive,daring you,the beekeeper or even a mother
mouse building a nest in the brood chamber. However, she accepts her own
death if need be to defend the colony. hence, the genetic behavior of a
bee is non-aggressive but very defensive of the colony. I do not have to
explain to you the importance of the senses of sight,smell,and touch to
we humans. Are not they at least the same for bees with some variation?
The chief sense of a bee is ODOR(smell) rather than sight. it finds the
clover bloom or tulip poplar big yellow flower NOT by sight, but by the
odor of the nectar. A worker bee feels secure way up in a super by the smell
of queen pheromone coming from the brood chamber below, not by sight and
in the dark too. Perhaps you have smoke alarms in your house (check the
batteries). In the dark, you would know if your partner peeled a banana,
One of the many chemicals of bee venom is isopentyl acetate, like oil of
banana, and when a bee leaves a sting in you, your gloves, your pants,etc,
the other bees think to themselves: "One of my sisters is in trouble and
had to sting something I better dash off to there and standby to give help
if needed to protect our society, the colony! In the dark as well as light-no
difference. At the risk of you thinking I am anthropomorphic(I am not),
let me ask you how you fell by being squeezed,slapped at,stepped on,or having
a blanket thrown on you head.
How do you imagine a bee feels if you slap at it because it is buzzing
your nose , or squeezed as you move a frame around in the hive, or get its
wing or legs caught up in the long fibers of your beautiful wool sweater.
Further, I don't imagine you are Babe Ruth with a baseball if you had a
lousy eyesight. In spite of the fact that our bee has five eyes (hope you
knew), they don't see SLOW movement very well, you (particularly your hands)
should always be in first gear and surely don't wear red clothes in the
apiary, because being red blind, they will bump right into you.
Take 5 and get a coke to give you strength for the next part. You gotta
know these things and use the knowledge to enjoy your bees as you work them
in your bathing suit. I need you to put on these demonstrations since I
can't perform very well with these blasted strokes. it is our JOB to convince
the public of the importance of bees and their safety.
Why does EAS and Montgomery County Fair ruin your vacation by scheduling
their events in late July and August? Not only are those months generally
poor honey production months, but it is hot and humid. With no nectar flow,
plus hot and humid weather, bees don't go out foraging very enthusiastically
plus they would have a hard time curing that nectar into honey in hot, humid
Hence, bees are "home" and "cranky", so rather you working them at the
wrong time and getting stung, it is better for you to go to EAS and the
county fair to learn more yourself and for you to explain the wonders of
beekeeping to the public. How much do you know about botany, that is the
science of plants?
A good beekeeper is aided by having a working knowledge of botany. For
example, what time of day, or under what circumstances , does a plant yield
nectar? Morning? Afternoon? All day? Bright sun, cloudy drought, after rain?
You might ask "SO WHAT?" When foragers are home, the colony is crowded,
and you are going to accidentally crush bees and set off a sting alarm,
not to mention having difficulty seeing things easily because the frames
are crowded with bees. Didn't you get mad with the crowds when Christmas
shopping? Speaking of shopping, I'll bet you and yours have wonderful expensive
"smelly-stuff" like perfume hair spray, deodorant, after shave, fancy soap,
powder and even chewing gum. Wonderful for you, but are any of these smells
naturally found in nature? Perhaps, although delightful to you, they might
be offensive to a bee and looked upon as a colony threat. hence, the defensive
attitude rears its head and you get stung because you wore Chanel #5 perfume
or Old Spice Aftershave lotion.
Here is more education for you: your exhaled breath contains carbon dioxide,
which can be used as a anesthesia for bees, and since they don't like it,
they become aggressive. This is way a bee constantly "flits' around your
face, because it is aggressively aroused. remember that the next time you
think about moving bees by blowing your breath on them.
If you want to look for eggs or small larvae in brood cells covered by
bees, forget breath blowing, just but your bare fingers on the bees over
the cells you want to inspect, and they will nicely move away from your
fingers particularly if they smell natural (soiled with propolis). I am
still on the subject of STINGS, so keep reading.
What I am about to say is not "old wives Tales or the reasonings of some
old non science trained by his Daddy beekeeper, but the thoughts of maybe
the world's greatest medical allergists, Dr. Golden (retired) and valentine
of John Hopkins Research Hospital. The number of truly allergic humans to
bee stings is less than 0.1% (almost zero), when you are stung on your finger
and your arm swells up to your elbowor even your shoulder, that is NOT an
allergic reaction but rather it indicates that your immune system is working
well. , and beekeepers should get stung in order to build a natural tolerance
to the sting.
Most allergists mention 250 stings per year as a good number. A bad situation
can innocently happen, as it did to me. I started beekeeping in Bethesda
in 1933 (before most of you were born) and got a lot of stings through my
clothes, under my veil, through my gloves and mostly with no protection
because there was nobody to teach me as I teach you. Swelling got less and
less as the years marched by and I soon said it was too hot for a bee suit
and a veil and I couldn't mark a queen with gloves on, so after about 15
or 20 years, I rarely used any bee clothes, and because I became a better
and better beekeeper., I wasn't getting very many stings from my 30-40 hive
until May, 1963(30 years since I started).
I was experimenting with a SHAKE-SWARM and suddenly got 30-40 stings and
went into anaphylatic shock. Suburban Hospital gave me adrenalin and i went
home the next day, told to STOP BEEKEEPING!! I went to see Dr. Golden at
John Hopkins who desensitized me with a massive series of injections of
diluted venom and he described my problem: As I become a better beekeper,
I got less stings and my anti-venom titer fell to low, so that when i get
a bunch of stings at once, my body reacted to shock. The treatment was:
Get more stings. maybe a sting a day, even in winter. Diabetics (my wife)
have to take insulin shots every day.
Why can't I take a sting a day? I do! I know that i have gone to the extreme,
but it works. I enjoy my bees and I don't get hot with all that protective
clothes. Approaching the end of this long epistle, in watching ,teching,
and training beehavers over these many years I can safely conclude that
95% of their bee problems stem from one principle reason followed by perhaps
just two secondary reasons: The principal reason for poor beekeeping and
gettin stung is the FAILURE to accept and understand anthropomorhism and
genetic bee behavior. The two secondary reasons attributing to poor management
and being stung are cloaking yourself with protective gear and then trying
to handle the bees with total disregard for nature's way and hence forcing
them into defensive posture of stinging for colony protection.
The purpose of an alarm pheromne is to summon help from other bees to protect
the colony. When beeHAVER wears gloves to avoid stings, what happens when
he carelessly crushes a bee, or moves too abruptly that he dares the bee
His glove is suddenly covered by the odor of isopentyl acetate which encourages
other bees to help by stinging. The other secondary reason for being stung
is ignoring natural bee behavior by moving TOO FAST (they can fast movement)
, wearing offensive (to a bee) smells,colors and fabrics; and don't forget
they are worked at convenience of man's time (like after work or a cloudy
Saturday) rather than on bee time (like when foragers are out in the filed
nectar collecting). I will end this by perhaps offering you (the truth that
hurts) when I say: just as "dirty hands are a part of farming" and greasy
hands are part of auto repair", "bee stings of the hands is part of beekeeping":
and he who trys to avoid stings by protective clothing rather than minimizing
the number of stings by having a good knowledge of genetics and bee behavior
and will always be a beeHAVER and never gain enjoyment of being a good beeKEEPER.
If I have bored you, although you are the looser, I apologize. If you say,
"wowee, I am scared, but George, I have watched you handle bees and seen
your enjoyment as you told the public about the importance of honey bee
pollination to our human stomachs, so I am going to try to learn and become
a KEEPER instead of a HAVER". You have just made my day!!!
||bee venom effects
||depress blood pressure,release histamine,lysisof blood
| Hyaluronidase <3%
||spreading factor,hydrolyzes connective tissue
|Acid phosphatase <1%
||induces allergic reactions
| Histamine <1%