You know you have your doctor's full attention when he walks into the examining room, glares - hands on hips - and declares "BEES???"
Well, not "B-E-E-S, " more like one itty bitty little angry honeybee; ok, maybe two, but nothing like a huge, gigantic, woman-eating swarm or anything. Scientists have now confirmed bees have feelings so I'm thinking this was one, very hot, and VERY surly little honeybee that stung me on my right cheek. I don't recommend it instead of Botox but hey, it does get rid of wrinkles. I was harvesting my second batch of honey, moving the most beautifully-full honey frames from the hive to outside my garage door. I had moved four of the six frames into the kitchen, leaving two frames of honey in an empty hive box outside. Make a note - NOT a good idea.
Honeybees will find that honey in a flash. With the record hot weather we had preventing plants from producing pollen bees can pack back to the hive, bees will "break" into the wax caps and eat the stored honey. Why not - they made it. I vaguely remember someone mentioning this at one of our Mid-Missouri Beekeepers meeting but it didn't register until I actually saw bees frantically working the last two frames full of honey. Now I've been moving among bees without a sting for months so, not giving it another thought, I leaned over to remove the last two honey-full frames. I started to brush bees away with a bee brush when one little ticked, and probably hungry, honeybee let me know what she thought of my taking those two remaining frames.
I know several beekeepers who are very allergic to bees and still raise them. My charming nurse is very allergic, carrying an Epi pin in her glove compartment at all times. She was also the one who told me bee stings have histemine, which causes the throat constriction that everyone fears; why an antihistimine like Benadryl is a good antidote, and why my doctor kept saying if I get another bite and have trouble taking any breath to call 911 and head for the emergency room.
Did you notice he didn't say to call him first? I noticed that, too.
I've had a couple of bee stings before. If I scrape the stinger sideways, it's barely a pin prick. Unfortunately for the honeybee, after it stings, it dies so I try to minimize my clumsiness when I work with them. My honeybee sting hurt for only a second, then left a little swelling. I was too busy removing honey to mess with the bite and, since it didn't hurt, I didn't worry about it. By next morning, I could barely open my right eye so I thought humm, might be a good idea if I meandered over to my doctor's office and took one of his staff members a jar of very freshly-harvested honey...
July is the end of Missouri's honey-making season. More experienced beekeepers harvest through Missouri's May-July honey season; some have already sold out of their honey supplies for the year. According to the American Bee Journal, honey prices are at record highs, in part because of "colony collapse disorder" decimating bee populations. On the other hand, there is a significant increase in beekeepers starting hives all over the world this year, giving honeybees at least a chance to survive pesticides, loss of pollen sources, mites - and bungling new beekeepers like myself - all suspected of causing the yearly loss of 1/3 of honeybee populations every year. Since 1/3 of all our food is pollinated by honeybees, bees deserve some respect, and maybe a little extra help.
Interestingly enough, this batch of honey tastes different from the small batch I harvested as a birthday gift for one of my brothers. The first batch was from the top hive frame; it was lighter, and had a little tea-like taste. This second batch is from an older frame; it is darker, and sweeter. For the record, my doctor said he thinks I should "stop playing" with bees. I'm going to wait until he tastes the honey.