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A hive for the honey bee

Honey Bee in Fruit Tree | www.myfoododyssey.com

“Ouch, I’ve been stung”, I said, looking down to see a bee stuck to the leg of my corduroy jeans. “Ouch, I’ve been stung”, my friend’s younger brother mirrored behind me. “There’s no need to mock”, I said, before feeling another sharp prick, this time on the back of my hand. It was only then that I heard the low hum of the hive and realised that we were completely surrounded by bees.

Suddenly, they were all over my head, stinging and stinging. I turned and ran, as did my companions behind me, each scattering for our respective homes. I screamed and shook my head as I ran but the bees were stuck in my hair and they continued to sting me. I ran past the kitchen window and was met by my father at the front door, a look of panic on his face. He wheeled me into the kitchen where my mother started to gently comb the bees from my hair.

She turned pale as she saw the number of bees dropping to the floor. Worried that I might either go into shock or develop a reaction, my father, who was a garda (policeman), bundled me into his squad car and, sirens blazing, raced me to the local doctor. I don’t remember anything of that 6 mile journey or at what point the stinging stopped. I know the doctor gave me a shot, probably an antihistamine, and I was brought home to bed.

Apple Blossom & Bee | www.myfoododyssey.com

Years later I was sunbathing in the garden when my mother called me into the house. I reached for my t-shirt to dress before going inside. There must have been a bee on that t-shirt because as soon as I put it on I could hear the darkly familiar hum coming from my hair. I panicked. At the time I was reading Watership Down, a tome of a book. In an attempt to get the bee before it got me, I picked up the book and started whacking myself on the head. (This was probably quite surprising and amusing to any onlookers, but not to me.) Unfortunately I failed and I was stung yet again in the head. I arrived into my mother teary-eyed, shaking from head to toe.

As you can imagine, as a result of these childhood experiences I have a major fear of bees. Which is why it might seem strange, even to myself, that I am currently considering getting a beehive and keeping honey bees.

Bee Hives | www.myfoododyssey.com

We use quite a bit of honey for my granola and on pancakes as well as in marinades and drinks. We eat only raw, single-source honey from one of our local beekeepers and it’s not particularly cheap – about €4.50 (US$ 4.90) for a half-kilo (1 lb) jar. I also use beeswax in my body butters and lip balms. Given that there’s just two of us our honey and beeswax needs alone would not justify keeping a hive. The real benefit is environmental. I won’t claim to be an expert, but I have read many articles on how bee numbers worldwide are diminishing at an alarming rate and the impact this is having on pollination of flowers and plants. While most pollination is done by solitary bees rather than honey bees, honey bees can still contribute to the success of your vegetables and other plants.

Apple Blossom & Bee | www.myfoododyssey.com

The skin on my head has tightened just typing this post so I might need some rehab before I launch into getting my own hive. A number of people in our village keep bees so perhaps I should start by visiting their hives and seeing how they manage their bees. I’d be surprised if I can make it past the gate at first, but maybe over time my fears might subside and I might add a small hive to our self-sufficient little homestead.

Any tips on getting past my fear of bees would be very much appreciated!

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Apple Blossom | www.myfoododyssey.com

31 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lady of the Cakes referred me to you regarding your tale of Beelzebub and I’m glad she did! I have really enjoyed visiting with you this morning, June. Regarding roosters: Not all roosters have satanic tendencies. Regarding bees: Two words ~ BEE SUIT ~

    Working with bees is wonderful and believe it or not quite soothing; it’s the humming I think. But to do so I have to have my bee suit. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    April 25, 2015
    • Ha – I’ll have to thank Simone for her referral! Delighted you enjoyed his story, though. On the bees, I think it is the humming I fear the most, but I reckon I can get past it with time and might even get to enjoy it some day.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 25, 2015
  2. Susan V #

    My father-in-law keeps (kept) bees, so it is likely we will inherit the job. We have watched him and helped him extract the honey many times. It is a very big job, but worth every minute. Your bee sting story sounds familiar. My son had the same experience at 3 years old. He is very afraid of them now, too, but is working through the fear. Two things to keep in mind. Honey bees are likely not the same bees as the ones which stung you. In general, they will not seek you out to sting you unless you are specifically agitating them (like stepping on an underground hive). Also, when you work with the hive, you use a smoker, which makes them docile and sleepy. Every time I’m in lithuania, I am surrounded by bees, both inside and outside the house. I have never been stung by them. I hope this helps. Maybe you can spend some time visiting our bees before you make a decision. Like I said, it is a LOT of work. But the trade value is very high (like for firewood or a pig), so I intend to keep up the business.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 13, 2015
    • Oh, that’s brilliant Susan – I’ll definitely take you up on that offer. Outside those two times I’ve only been stung once so I know stings are fairly rare. I’ll just have to work through the fear.

      Like

      April 13, 2015
  3. It sounds like a good idea to visit some of the neighbors and see how they are managing their bees. A good way to start. I can’t help you with your fear of bees, I’m afraid. Just be respectful of them. I have thought about getting a bee hive too, but I am afraid of getting stung too. The one time I got stung by a bee on my hand, it hurt like crazy and swelled up. I put some medicine on it and fortunately didn’t have to go to the doctor. Good luck with your decision with the bees. I do like the honey. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 14, 2015
    • Thanks Cheryll. Those stings really hurt, don’t they? One at a time is enough. I do try give bees their space as I know they’re so important. But even getting close enough to take those photos gave me the gitters!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 14, 2015
  4. smfarm #

    I have a friend in another state who keeps bees and loves it, and it’s something we’d like to do as well in the future, although most we’ve talked to say it’s very expensive to get started in. We use a lot of honey for soap, salves, cooking, my husband even puts it in his coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 11, 2015
    • I never even thought of the expense, Julie. I must have a look into prices here.

      Like

      March 11, 2015
  5. It sounds like you have the right attitude about it. Don’t let your fear control you! Do your research with the local beekeepers and then make an informed decision. Looking forward to hearing your decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2015
  6. I’m not particularly scared of bees, but the few times I helped my friend harvest his honey I completely froze up – I would definitely join your local bee-keeper for a harvest to experience the proximity to the swarm before committing yourself. Although worst case scenario, you have bees on your property and never harvest any honey 🙂 In our area many beekeepers are looking for space to put hives; they often “rent” a backyard in exchange for a certain amount of honey.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2015
    • I like that renting idea, Liene. We have lots of space, so it could be a best-of-both-worlds solution for us. Thanks!

      Like

      March 10, 2015
  7. A beehive would be great! My brother keeps bees in London and he’s totally hooked. I have a wasp phobia – one made me write-0ff a new car, but bees I can handle 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 10, 2015
    • Yeh, we initially thought we’d walked into a hive of wasps. Thankfully it was “only” bees or I might not be here to tell the tale. Wasps have been killing a lot of bees around here. Horrible, nasty creatures.

      Like

      March 10, 2015
  8. God, what a horrible experience! You’ll be a brave woman if you do get a hive! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2015
    • It was pretty horrific. My scalp literally tightens and a shiver goes down my back every time I think of it. But I shall overcome!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2015
  9. humblelittlehomestead #

    Oh, I’m the same way! I’d love to have bees but I’m scared of them. My husband is allergic to them, so I doubt we’ll ever get any since it would be risky having them around. Good luck if you decide to get them, I think it would be an interesting project!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2015
    • Thanks Shelly. I guess I was lucky I wasn’t allergic or I would have been in big trouble. Definitely best to avoid them in that case.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2015
  10. Wow! You have every reason to be scared of bees …. but I really hope you can overcome your entirely justified fear and keep a hive – the rewards are amazing. I have not kept my own but my very very great friend in Wiltshire is one of the UKs leading Bee experts and it is the most fascinating and rewarding occupation.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2015
    • Thanks Osyth. Maybe you could ask your friend for tips on how to overcome the fear! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2015
      • I had aversion therapy to help with my fear of birds … love to look at them but not good if they come into ‘my space’ – it worked and I can now sit with a duck on my knee and look forward to having chickens again!

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2015
      • How interesting. How does it work? I think the only time I heard about it was in an episode of friends, where Phoebe showed Rachel a photo of Ross and then hit her across the face. I assume it’s not as severe as that?!

        Like

        March 9, 2015
  11. I admire your spunk. We have a lot of bees that live on our property and allowed a Danish friend to set up hives for harvesting honey. He seemed to get along fine with his bees (he’s passed away now). He loved it and did it for years. He was always calm and slow. Not something that would be that easy I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2015
    • I’ve watched people working on hives and read that it can be calming and therapeutic, but I guess they aren’t talking about the people with the phobia! Little by little, I guess…

      Liked by 1 person

      March 9, 2015
  12. Is that Beelzebub not enough for you???? Just as well that the T-Rex is extinct, or you’d have one of those as well…

    Liked by 1 person

    March 9, 2015
    • Beelzebub is looking more and more like dinner every day. I miss hanging out with the hens and he seems to be getting more aggressive, even with Arūnas. Must put white wine on my shopping list…

      Like

      March 9, 2015
      • And bay leaves 🙂

        But seriously, re. the bees, why do it to yourself? Let other people put up with them 😉 I like bees, and I appreciate them – we’d starve without the little buzzers – but since I’ve got bee-trap hair, I stay away from hives.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 9, 2015
      • It happened to you, too? And you have curls – it must have been impossible to get them out. You might be right, you know. I reckon if I just help out a local bee-keeper, even if that’s just by buying their honey and wax, I’ll have done my part for the environment. I’d like to beat my fear, though.

        Like

        March 9, 2015

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