I realise that I have not been sharing as regularly about the training sessions as I have been posting about my own beehive. This is probably because all the learning is so patchy and ad-hoc that it is so difficult to put in a comprehensive blog. This week’s training session though can be summarised into two important events.
(T+3 minutes) – Bee Stings my Foot
The training apiary has a single, particularly aggressive resident colony, in hive 13 (is the number a coincidence? Don’t think so). I arrived a little late and everyone was already arranged in groups and inspecting colonies, so I hurriedly joined the nearest to the entrance, hive number 13. Of course, in this heat, I am happy (and naive enough) to be wearing only my ballerinas and socks, instead of the usual calf-high boots. Literally, 3 minutes into observing from the sidelines, one of the bees finds an easy target and ouch! that was my foot. I was given the scornful “told you so” for not wearing my boots and reluctantly, shooed out until I got my boots on and came back in.
(T+63 minutes) – Colony with Laying Workers made Homeless
This is one of the most heartbreaking things that can happen to a colony. This is not the first colony in the training apiary that has been left queenless, this exact same thing happened during Training Base #003. This time the colony was actually quite large but, once more, with a few developed drone laying worker bees – a sign of doom. Instead of allowing the colony take its natural course to extinction, it was decided to try and give it a fighting chance.
The only way to do this, as horrible as it sounds, was to force them into homelessness. The bees had to be shook out of the hive and all hive components taken away from the area, so that there was nothing to return to. The worst part was actually, the sight that followed. A swarm of sisters rushing back to where their home used to be, huddling on the corner of a bare concrete slab.
Their homelessness, would drive them to look for a new home, and those that still had work and love to give, would be welcomed by the other colonies while the others would be forever lost in the darkness of night. I don’t know if there is a better way to save such a colony, but this at least gives hope for the younger bees with future ahead of them.