I just finished reading Plan Bee by Susan Brackney. I love Susan, I discovered her first book, The Lost Soul Companion: A Book of Comfort and Constructive Advice for Black Sheep, Square Pegs, Struggling Artists, and Other Free Spirits, several years ago. This was not long after my obsession with bees had begun, but at the time I had no idea she had any interest in beekeeping. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Susan Brackney who wrote Plan Bee was the same one who wrote The Lost Soul Companion. Her writing is reader friendly and humorous, and this is a wonderful introductory book for those who are thinking about setting up a hive or just starting out, like me. Susan's book is a good side dish along with a solid beekeeping manual. Even though I've read an armload of books on bees and beekeeping, there were still new things that I learned from Susan's book, like how to cover yourself in a bee-kini (yikes!), and I always enjoy reading people's personal experiences. I liked Marina Marchese's book Honeybee for the same reason. Interestingly enough, Marina is another artsy-girl-turned-beekeeper. I am beginning to wonder if the interest in art and beekeeping is related?
The last time I opened the hive, almost two months ago.
Speaking of bees, mine are long overdue for a hive check, but I still haven't gotten a veil or gloves, and I am definitely not going to try and open up that hive now that it is two bodies deep and most likely has twice as many bees. Even if I wanted to peek inside, they've glued the lid with their propolis, thus prevented it from coming off easily. At first I was peeking in everyday, which you probably aren't supposed to do, but I was curious to see what was going on each day. I would stick my face right into the hive to look deep down in between the frames and not have one bee notice. The bees never seemed to be bothered by my nosiness, and I would leave them baggies of sugar water to feed from on top of the comb frames. Well, as the numbers started increasing, they began to assign a lot more guards. I couldn't open the lid without one of them getting in my face, warning me to get the heck out of there. I didn't press the issue.
Susan described a similar experience with her bees. She said her passive Italian honeybees that didn't seem to mind her poking about in their hive suddenly turned on her, stinging each time she would check in on the hive. She wrote that most likely, her Italian queen had been replaced by a new queen that has mated with a feral "rogue" drone in the area. This would explain why the bees had suddenly became aggressive. I don't know if this has happened to my hive, as I haven't actually been stung, just warned by bees flying in my face. I won't know until I break in and have a look.
I still haven't been stung, but I know that I will eventually. In a weird way I want to be stung so that I can build up immunity, but at the same time I would prefer not to feel the pain. I haven't been stung since I was about nine. I've read that seasoned beekeepers look forward to a few stings, because eventually it no longer bothers them. I've even witnessed someone with MS who purposely had bee stings applied to each of his toes. It just didn't seem all that fun though. Lee has promised that next week we can finally get the rest of my beekeeping gear, so we'll see what happens when it arrives.