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A Reminder of Who’s Boss

Posted by on September 3, 2013
Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

My bees are pretty gentile.  I often waltz up to the hives and put my ear to the back of the brood nest and listen for a the swish without any protection. As long as I don’t mess with their entrance, and don’t open the hive, they ignore me. The worst I ever get is a bee bump, telling me that it’s time to leave – and I do.

But today, just as I stood observing the hives at 15 feet, I was attacked by a solitary bee. She came out of nowhere, started dive bombing my face, and in a few seconds, made her target and stung me on my cheekbone.

Now I’ve heard honey bees are more aggressive in the fall, as they become more protective of their honey stores and their babies. I’ve even heard of a normaly gentle hive having an alter ego in the fall, but it’s 80F and a sunny day outside, hardly fall in New England. I didn’t come close to the hive, and I certainly didn’t block their entrance or open it up.

In the few seconds before she stung, I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t there to mess with the babies. I wasn’t going to steal their honey.  I’d even be happy to back off another 15 feet. Geez, woman, I’m the guy that fed your colony all last winter – remember? What did I do?

As I sat thinking todays event over, and their attitude over the past week when I was in the hive for an inspection, I think it must be due to the time of year.

Note to self – Always wear protection when approaching the hive in the fall. Ouch.

Side note: My wife and son were stung yesterday by a bumble bee gone out of control. She stung my son outside, jumped on me as we quickly went into the house, and when I shooed her away, dive bombed my wife inside and outside the house.  The bumble bee finally met her demise outside, under my shoe. What is it with bees and the fall?

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