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If that isn't my worst day beekeeping, I'm giving up


Thought I’d start a thread on this topic as we mostly hear of how clever people are when beekeeping but we don’t often here of the disasters or really hard days. Thought I’d start with my own.

We (my wife and I) had ordered some bee packages and an extra queen which arrived on a sunny day (predicted top of 34 degrees Celsius). Having inspected our existing hives that morning we were somewhat tired but decided to get the packages in place that day. After all 34 isn’t too bad.
We arrived at our supplier to collect the packages as the temperature hits 38, no problem, putting a few packages in some hives is easy… So we loaded the car and headed to our first site (middle of suburbia). As we were nearing the site I noticed a few bees coming into the cabin (packages were in the boot/trunk). I pull up and open the boot and cop a face full of bees! They were everywhere, clearly one or more of the packages has split open. We rush to get our suits on and start trying to put the intact packages in to hives as discreetly as possible but it is hard to be discreet when there are thousands of bees flying about the boot of your car looking for their home! At one point my wife saw a car pull up at the top of the driveway stop for 10 seconds (took one look at my wife in her bee suit surrounded by thousands of bees) then reverse back and take off.
As the temperature hits 40 we finally get the first lot of packages into our hives and head off to the second site. All goes well there and at the third site…phew.
We head back with our extra queen to install her in an existing queenless hive, it is almost getting dark now and we have been doing bee stuff all day, we are tired, hungry, exhausted and decide we will just slip the queen cage into the hive (5 second job to tilt box, slot queen on top of frames and close box) it sounded easy. We walk up to the hive (2 x 10F boxes) and I tilt open the boxes and at that exact moment we hear a voice “are you trying to steal our hives?”. It was the neighbours son who had not recognised us. In the 5 to 10 seconds it took to respond the (unsmoked) bees had come out in force and were successfully stinging my wife through the suit, additionally the Qx was propilised in place and with the failing light and my wife’s poor eyesight we couldn’t get the queen in place. After a few more seconds of this we abandoned what in hindsight was a poorly conceived plan. Walking away from the hive back to the car (with bees still stinging my wife through the suit) our other neighbours decide that it is an excellent time to jump in the car and go for a drive somewhere. Not wanting to appear distressed we happily smile and wave…no problem here!!! Luckily they stayed in the car waved back and just drove off.
As we get home for the day and sit down my wife looks to me and says…If that isn’t our worst day beekeeping, I’m giving up".


hmm, fun, eh? Sometimes you just think: when the hell did I think beekeeping was a good idea? :wink:

it should be hard for bees to sting through a suit- the better modern suits have more layers and are largely sting proof. My suit is old and bees can sting through it- so I often wear thickish clothes underneath so the stingers can’t get through. Not fun when it is 40C though. Another trick of mine is to wet a tea towel and wear it around my neck on really hot days- under the suit- it helps to keep a bit cooler. I also wear a hat under my suit so that the veil can’t touch my face. When dealing with angry hives the one thing that is very important is to be fully suited up and protected: otherwise it is easy to start panicking when things go sour. I have learnt this the HARD way. When you are fully protected- and bees start attacking en-masse- you can take a breath- stay calm- and carry on.


Oh Man! Not a great day… That hive is not in a good way to come out in force like that… more than ever you need to get that new queen in there… I have had an aggressive hive that took me 3 days to find and terminate the queen, the bees were so thick on my veil that I needed windscreen washers to clear them so I could see. A week after installing the queen they had calmed right down… So stick with it, if you couldn’t go in one day, then try again the next. A queen in the cage will be fine for up to two weeks in the right conditions. Keep us updated…


“Nobody told me there’d be days like this” (John Lennon)
What is different today is I have learn’t to overcome is PaniC.

When the bees are “off” and attacking en mass it is hard to be rational. The more you hurry the worse the situation gets. The hive boxes seem to shrink or expand or both so they don’t seem to fit together, bees getting squished further infuriating the hive, somehow a bee has got into your vale and has stung your face, so you hurry some more creating pandemonium. At this point you are not thinking rationally.

Now at the hint of the whole hive being upset, (one or two hive guards are not a worry) I just close up calmly and slowly and walk away and come back tomorrow.


You are braver than me. I leave it for 2 days. :smile:


Now that the bees have settled I hope you can laugh about it. I started a bee robbing free for all taking off my honey supers. While removing off the roof to feed syrup my dog started drinking out of the 5 gallon bucket of it. He then ran into the garage because he got stung by a bee on his rump and he shook off sugar syrup all over my garage. Next day the ants came in. I can relate to the feeling of putting out fires with gasoline. :joy::raised_hands::heart:


Thank goodness not all days are like that one you had. I have suffered bad days and now have a formula to reduce them dramatically.
I has realized that most of the time I get a hammering is when it is really hot and the bees are taking time out in the hive with very little flying.
I find that is when even a placid hive becomes difficult to handle so when the bees take time out from the heat and so do I.
A sting proof suit is a really good investment in confidence too.