The Beekeeper who is Afraid of Bees

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

After I was stung while gardening, I began to feel more anxious when working in the garden. Any buzzing around my head made me jumpy. The last inspection that I did on the host hive added to my fear. My reactions to bee stings are very painful and I really want to try to avoid being stung as much as I can. I know that being a beekeeper means that I am going to get stung, but I expect it while I am doing an inspection not while I am tending to my garden.

The bees are mostly docile, but occasionally they seem grumpy about us being in our backyard. I have spent very little time in my garden this year. My veggies are feeling neglected and I have not been able to enjoy the relaxation that gardening brings. I have done some gardening while in my bee suit, but the weather here can be too hot and humid for me to be wearing it at length.

The top bar hive in my yard was in need of an inspection and with having my full suit, I thought I would be okay. I opened the hive and the fear took over. I was shaking all over and unable to go on. I moved the divider board to the end which added four more bars to their space. That was all that I could do, so I closed up the hive.

Then on July 18th while out in the garden, I was chased by a relentless bee. I was more than ten feet away from the hive, but she was determined to get my attention. My husband was right there and I let him know that I needed help right away. We both walked toward the house and once we were on the patio he tried to get her away from me. She landed on his arm and he told me to run into the house. I ran into the mudroom and she followed me.

I went back into the yard and we worked on trying to get her away from me again. She went back to my husband and I bolted for the house. He decided to walk around to the front of the house to loose her and it worked. He came up to the front door and I wouldn’t let him in until I was sure that the bee was gone. Luckily, she didn’t follow him to the front of the house.

The same day I called a beekeeper that I know to see if she would be interested in taking my hives. She wanted to come see the hives, she had never worked with a top bar hive before. She came over the next day to check the top bar hive and the Langstroth hive. She started with the top bar hive, she lit the smoker, and then opened the hive. The bees were so calm and pleasant. This beekeeper has a very good relationship with the bees and they respond so well to her. She and I inspected the hive and everything looked good.

Next she went through the Langstroth hive and the bees reacted the same way. They were so calm and didn’t mind her going through their hive. This colony is very strong and doing very well. Their hive looked great and we saw all of the important things that we needed to see. I found it strange to hold a frame with foundation. I was able to easily move it around and turn it however I needed. Top bars are very different and you need to be careful when picking up the bar and moving it around. You don’t want to turn a bar wrong and have the comb break off.

The beekeeper told me that she would take both of the hives, she just needed to figure out the logistics of moving both of the hives. I was sad, but relieved. The anxiety has been such a challenge for me, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. She had asked my to become her assistant, she needed help with keeping hives and I wanted to continue beekeeping. It seemed like this was going to be the best solution.

A few days later she called me and let me know that she had changed her mind. She was too overwhelmed with all that she has going on. I understood her, but I felt let down. Now I have to come up with a new plan.

2 thoughts on “The Beekeeper who is Afraid of Bees”

  1. Melissa,

    I too took the same journey this past winter in reading, studying and schooling to pursue beekeeping. I read Hemenway’s book and was enthralled with this wholistic perspective on beekeeping. I decided I would build my own TBH. I build a bait box with the intention of of catching a swarm. The window of opportunity closed for this year but I look forward to next Spring.

    I am sorry to hear that you want to abandon your beekeeping but understand that getting stung is a real downside to this art. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. Maybe collaborate our interests and efforts to keep you involved.

    1. Hi Anya,

      Thank you for taking the time to check out my site. Where are you located? Maybe we can plan a time to talk about bees. Let me know what you think.

      Take care
      Melissa

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