Thursday, May 14, 2015

A New Bee Experience:

We've known for a few weeks that Adam needed either to split a couple of his hives or to give them empty boxes underneath. They were getting too full of bees, and were likely to swarm if not given more room.
The hive on the far right has lots of boxes and plenty of room. They tend to "beard" extra bees on the outside because that hive remains in sun longer, and is warm, so the bees come outside and fan the entrance with their wings.
However, two hives down from that one is a solid red hive, really a nuc box, that is quite full. In the photo above, you can see how the hive on the end (a Warre hive) is bearding, and so is the hive two doors down.
The difficulty in splitting these hives is (unfortunately) the frames we've been using. Adam switched to simple "top-bar" frames in his hives a few years back. They are so easy to make -- just one piece of wood that lays across the top of the box. The bees make the comb, drawing it down from that top bar. They don't need frames with wood on all four sides, and they really hate the fake plastic comb foundation that some beekeepers put inside the frame.
Adam is now making new frames with side bars.
Except ...  A top-bar frame is just fine if you want to pull the frames out of the hive to extract honey.You're going to cut the entire honeycomb out of the frame anyway. But he doesn't want honey. He wants to grow bees. And to do that, he needs to be able to move his frames -- to take a frame from this hive, and a frame from that hive, and make a new hive in new boxes, without doing any damage to those frames. Top-bar frames are terrible for this.
Bees attach their comb to the top-bar, but they also like to attach their comb to the side. And since these top-bar frames don't have sides, the bees attached their comb to the sides of the boxes! Argh! That's a headache. Adam realized he'd made a mistake in using top-bars. He had lovely frames of bees that he couldn't move anywhere!! So he's begun adapting his old top-bars, adding sides to them.

But some hives were getting crowded. We didn't want them to swarm. We can't split them. What to do? He decided to add an empty box underneath, on each of the crowded hives.
He did that to the bearded red hive I mentioned above. He also did it to the hive in the photo above, the brown 2-box hive with the red strap. He did this one first, and he asked me if I would help him -- when he lifted the two full boxes up, would I please place the empty box on the bottom board for him. Then he'd put the full boxes on top of it. So I did. And that's when my bee life changed forever.

I was stung on the forehead by a bee. I've been stung by bees quite a few times. I usually get a little swelling, itch, and by the next day it's gone. I did have a more severe reaction about 6 months ago to a bee sting. Remember? It was on my left hand, quite swollen, but not too alarming.
This bee sting on the forehead was another matter. I thought nothing of it at first. A little swelling. I put some salve plantain on it, and then some baking soda paste. Still ... it swelled. By evening, my face looked like this:
You can see the swelling in the forehead, and how it is moving to the bridge of my nose and my eye lids and upper cheeks.
Later that evening, my eyes were just slits:
Now I know what my face would look like if I gained 200 pounds, I suppose!
I didn't want to go to the doctor. I hate going for medical help.My general approach to medical help is this: 1) Usually you know if it's a true medical emergency: gaping wound, broken bone, blood everywhere, or unconsciousness. (But a bee sting? Really?) 2) If it's not an obvious emergency, I try ignore all tendencies to panic, treat the condition, observe closely, and assume the body will heal itself. So I wait. I told Adam, if it wasn't better in the morning, we would go in to a clinic nearby. The next morning:
Yeah. The swelling was moving into my throat, and knowing that a blocked airway is one of the serious dangers in allergic reactions, I agreed to go. It's a good thing I did. At the clinic, the doctor prescribed prednisone, zantac, an antibiotic, lots of benadryl, and the greatly-dreaded item: an epi pen.
Yep. Now I get to carry an epi pen with me in my purse everywhere I go. What a pain! (And yes, I do know they are life-savers, and I'm very thankful to have one.) I'm used to being a healthy girl, with no chronic, dangerous health conditions. I guess those days are over. And by the way -- all those other meds left me with a copay of about $20 together. The epi pen? $270. Sigh.
My face is quite improved, although nowhere near normal. I can see again. When I arrived at the clinic, I had a slit of vision in only one eye. Last night I went to my friend's house for an evening of Mexican Train Dominoes ... because if your best buddies can't love you when your face is scary, who will?
Here are my four friends. I took this picture because it includes the sixth member of our group, Muffin. See her, sitting in that chair over there with her red collar on? We want to teach her how to play the game :)


  1. OMG!!
    hope you are much better now...

  2. Oh my gosh dear MK! How awful for you!

    I am so glad you are on the mend. You are in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy, full recovery.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

  3. Oh my word! That is some reaction. Now I'm going to scold.... You should have gone to the medical centre earlier M.K. Allergies aren't to be played with. You are only given one life in this world and you should treasure it and that means going for medical aid when necessary.
    I do hope you recover soon. Hugs xx

  4. OH! my! I am so glad you got medical attention, that was such a reaction! I have always wanted to be a bee keeper, but was so afraid of getting stung! I guess I will have to continue buying local honey, and like you I do dread going to DRS. Thanks for sharing hope you feel better soon!.

  5. Oh my goodness! I'm glad the swelling is going down! Poor you!

  6. EEK!! That looks seriously painful. You were right to go to hospital. We were having some carpentry done once and the sound of the saw attracted a bee. The carpenter was stung on the bottom and also ended up in hospital and now has to carry an epi-pen. You would think more stings would make you immune, but it is strangely the other way around.

  7. Yup, scary situation! I would have gone to the clinic a lot earlier, but you're a true pioneer woman, MK! :) Will you continue to play with bees?

  8. Oh, dear. I am glad you went to the ER. I am declaring right now that you are healed in the precious, matchless name of Jesus. Bless your heart. That epi pen is a wise decision.

  9. MK, the word got around here at Ridge Haven about your face, so I did look and just almost cried! Thank the Lord that you survived! Blessings, sweet lady; we'll be praying that the hurt goes away. Love

  10. I enjoyed reading about the bees and the different hives. I'd like to know why Adam doesn't want honey & what he plans to do with all the bees?
    Then I saw your bee sting and my goodness woman why didn't you go to the doctor right away. That was no ordinary reaction. Looks so painful. I'm so glad you got help though.

  11. Hey sweets. In seeing your latest posts, you look so pretty, so know you're healed up. So glad of that so you didn't miss your family reunion, the graduation, and now a wedding. You take care. :)


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