Good evening fellow bee keepers. I have a rookie question here. I am very close to the wildfire in California and smoke is filling our skies with ashes landing all over the ground. I am worried about my bees absconding. Is this something that I should be prepared for or am I over-reacting again?
Here in Sydney we were blanketed in bushfire smoke all summer with the huge fires we had, it did not cause my bees to abscond.
I’ve even had hazard reduction burns less than 100 metres from my hives with no ill effects.
Thank you Stevo. I was really worried about this and was wondering if I should build a thing with air conditioning to put around my bees when this happens so they are free from smoke. This makes me feel better about this situation.
Well from some of the photos I’ve seen of hives burnt during our fires, the bees will hang on until the walls of their hives are aflame, they fight till the last!
Hi Lisa, bees won’t abscond even when hit directly by fire. A queen in full egg laying mode usually is unable to fly and the other bees wouldn’t leave without her. So much for the old ‘wisdom’ of smoking bees to make them docile because they fill up their stomach with honey in case they have to leave with a fire approaching…
Just prepare the immediate surroundings of the hives and clear inflammable materials (leaves and other dry matter) away in case you have hot ash/ambers raining down.
We are in Northern NSW of Australia and our hives where in thick smoke for up to three months last season, never absconded but certainly become ‘de-moralised’ after a while and there is some evidence that foragers can get disorientated in heavy smoke and get lost.
I( had a week of bush fires within 20 meters of my apiary last Summer when so much of our East Coast burned. I didn’t loose a hive so I figure I was more stressed than the bees. The fire fighters were made aware of the apiary and was told they would turn a hose on them when they could to reduce heat and smoke. A magnificent bunch of people. I suspect the colonies would have stayed regardless.
That sounds worrying, hope you and your bees are okay
I am getting ready to go give them a check right now. I am thinking now might be a good time to check the hive box out. Is this a good idea or would they already be agitated? I have already taken 10 stings, one of which sent me to the urgent care. I seen that one coming though. I opened the box and witnessed one ticked off bee look me right in the eyes with murder thoughts and he kept good on his eye language when he botled out with lightning speed to in a murder attempt.
Sounds troubling. Hope your bees and yourself are safe.
Thank you catpepper.
Look into having an Epi-pen in your kit and do research into a Bite-Away, I have both and both work and do different things to help you after a sting if you have bad reactions to them.
I asked the doctor at urgent care if I could have one of the Epi-pens just in case but sadly, she told me not at this time do I need one. I did take two more stings after that sting that did not react so bad. One sting did inflame a mole I have on my arm and again I thought I was going to die from it. (My head does things like that to me) It turns out if was histamine from the bee sting. I have never heard of the bite-away but will certainly look into it.
PS I decided to not open the hive with this much smoke in the air since I don’t want to further stress my bees out with more smoke.
You are always a wealth of knowledge to me Peter.
In Australia we can buy an Epi-pen from a chemist shop just by saying ‘I’m a bee keeper’. 18 months ago by off-sider had a massive reaction to a single sting after previously having many stings with no reaction. I had to hit her with two Epi-pens and still had to do CPR till the ambulance arrived with a doctor
I seldom have a sting now that I need to use my Bite-Away, guess I have a built up immunity. The venom varies depending on what the bees are feeding on recently.
Glad about your decision not to look in the hive with so much smoke about.
When (not if) you get a sting don’t jump up and down in panic, stay calm and use your hive to to rake the sting out and reduce the amount of venom. But if you start to over react to the sting get help.
Thank you so much for the compliment Lisa.
My friend in Sydney NSW had fires burn right up to 3 feet from her hives int eh Blue Mountain last December- and the bees stayed put. Luckily heroic firefighters managed to stop the fires as they were protecting a historic building 10 feet from them. On the rear of the hives the land was burnt out for thousands of hectares.
It’s a myth bees abscond if fire in the area. When you smoke your bees they don’t leave.
They stay put to protect the colony and will go down with the ship.
Stay safe Ikordich hope the fires pass very soon and you and your family/friends are safe and well.
I am going to get me some of this. Thank you for all your knowledge.
I am so glad to hear that everyone on here concurs that my bees will not leave. I now have 3 hive boxes and will soon be looking to get a few more queens to fill the other boxes. I bought the second box to get a hive from a location but found the next day that they all moved to the first hive. I guess the queen died in transport. Live and learn. That was a heart breaking lesson to me but one I took seriously. So needless to say that box is now empty and then I have a flow hive that I am going to utilize as well.