Ouch, ouch and ouch… No matter how glorious the morning was, or how much honey I have in my hives, how happy the ladies are, or even how excited I was that some friends showed up at the garden to learn more about Mavis and Sally – nothing takes away the pain of the sting… especially on my high cheekbone!

I’m writing this with half a swollen face – barely able to see out of my right eye – (I thought it best to not share a visual) – and frustrated that I did not listen to my gut instinct to NOT take off my veil… But I was hot, and in the midst of great conversation – and well… I made a huge mistake! Lesson learned!

But the foolery took place after a full inspection of both hives- and wow!  Both Sally and Mavis are producing brood and honey unlike anything I have ever seen.

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Charlotte, Stephanie and Heather joined Josh and me for a two hour excursion in both hives (the bigger the hive body, the longer it takes to inspect!)

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There are FULL frames of honey on the outer edges of the deep hive bodies and the supers I installed a few weeks ago are well on their way to being full with uncapped honey.  The brood in the frames looks extremely healthy and has a diverse mix of eggs and larvae at various stages.

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There’s little to any pest issue except I DID see one bee (in Sally) with a mite on its back…

Most hives have mites – so I‘ll have to pay close attention to the strength of Sally and make sure the ladies can keep this pest in check.  I’m against treating chemically – so the only treatment I even consider is powdered sugar  – where you douse the frames, covering the bees in a snow-like haze.  I did this last year with great results (I had a mite free hive) – but it really angers the bees and causes unnecessary sugar build-up along the frames (and what they don’t clean up can/will turn to mold).  So this year I’m letting the bees fend for themselves…  We’ll see!

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With only one extra veil to share among the onlookers, each took turns venturing over to the hive with caution and curiosity – Stephanie was first and fared well –but it was Charlotte, the next onlooker, who took the first sting (under her arm!) – sorry Charlotte!  And then poor Heather – she was keeping her distance – standing far back in the garden with Josh when a honey bee flew in to her nose – IN TO her nose – but she remained beautifully calm, kept talking and then in one strong blow expelled the bee from her nostril – safely – and both she and the bee were spared!

BUT – later, when she came closer to the hive to take one last peak, another bee landed on the tip of her nose and well… she wasn’t so lucky this time!

Oh, gosh, two friends stung on my invitation – I felt so horrible.  But bees do sting!  And it makes me realize I’m at fault for not warning my guests enough on the great agitators.  Sweat (and it was brutally hot – and we were all dripping with it) really ticks the ladies off, so does any residue of banana (banana mimics enemy pheromones).  I learned that Charlotte had a banana earlier in the day – yikes!

Tank tops, shorts and sandals aren’t the best attire – I wear a long sleeved shirt under a canvas jacket with heavy canvas pants and boots – probably a bit excessive – but I am going deep in to the hive.  Sadie has extra veils (I only have one extra) so in the future I’ll pick more up on the way to the garden so no one will have to wait to trade off.   But bring a light jacket at the very least – as for bees flying up someone’s nose… I’m at a loss on preventing that!

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My next visit will be in two weeks – when I will check on these super towers!

I hope I haven’t scared anyone away with the tales of the day – it can be used as a cautionary tale – when visiting the hives PLEASE do not eat any bananas prior!

But it’s still a ton of fun – and always filled with amazing discoveries.  I hope to see some of you in the garden!

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