Angry Bees

So, not a lot of work on the house getting done right now, as we are partly in a holding pattern pending some supplies that are crawling their way towards us.

In the meantime, we harvested all the honey from the dead hives (about 60 lbs of it), and set some of the empty boxes on the new hive to be cleaned out (the bees will crawl all over them licking up spilled honey, and leaving behind nice clean wax).

Then the next day, as we were getting ready to get in the car to drive to Tacoma for a conference, between 4am when I got up and let Rosie out in the yard and 6am when Noel went to get something from the basement, the hive tipped over.

Oy, vey. I suspect one of our neighborhood cats tipped it, but the stand was kind of tippy on its own, so it could have been just gravity. At any rate, there was not much to do but suit up and go out and set the hive full of angry, angry bees to rights. I did forget to put ties around my pant legs, though, and I got to start the day right with angry bees up my pants. Let me tell you where you do not want to be stung before getting in the car to drive for 14 hours. On the butt is where you do not want to be stung.

bees in the pants

But I got the hive righted, and only got 3 big stings, and I smushed a few bees that were lost in my pants when I took them off. It was a good time.

We went off to Tacoma, and when we got back the bees were merrily working away as if they had not been through major trauma. And this weekend it was warm enough that I decided it was time to get them out of the old equipment and make sure everybody was OK, so yesterday I did a split, dividing the hive into two hive bodies to make two new hives. Normally I would not do such a thing before late March, because I'd want to have a high bee population in case of cold weather (the bees will cluster over their brood to keep it warm, and if there aren't enough bees, that will not work out well for anybody). But this year it is warm and the flow has already started, and they were ready for it.

The bees were not nearly as angry as they were on the 13th, I must say. And within a couple of hours of the split they were back at work going in and out of both hives. One hive has the queen (assuming she's still alive after that tumble, but I saw no sign that she wasn't), and the other one will make a queen. I won't go into them again for a couple weeks, just to give them some time to chill out.

So in light of that, you can imagine how hard I laughed at this terrific idea from Philips:

Urban beehive

It's an urban beehive. It's designed to hang in your apartment window. You can have bees right there. The whole hive visible to your apartment (until the bees propolize it, of course).

This looks like fun

Here is some of why I was laughing so hard:

1. This hive has no moveable frames. Hives without moveable frames are illegal in the US, and any many countries, because they cannot be inspected for disease. This is a big, serious issue. I know it's fashionable right now for new beekeepers to question the rules and the way things are done, but we've been through this and you do not want to see what epidemic American foulbrood will do to the bee population. Not to mention, in order to harvest honey without moveable frames you have to kill the bees or rehive them, and this hive doesn't seem to have any way to open up for rehiving. NOT TO MENTION THAT IT IS IN YOUR APARTMENT.

2. THE HIVE IS IN YOUR APARTMENT. I like having bees in my backyard but let me tell you, I also like being able to shake them off and go inside and not have bees IN MY HOME. If you try to harvest honey from this hive -- as the designers very cleverly suggest you could -- you will have angry, angry bees all over your apartment, and that will be no fun at all. Keep in mind that since this hive has no moveable frames, you can't even slip one or two frames out and brush the bees off quickly before slamming the hive shut. No, you have to shake the ENTIRE HIVE out into another hive. I'm imagining this in a tiny NYC studio, where you have to climb over the bed to get to the window. Bees in your bed. Bees in your closet. In comparison, a few bees in the pants seems not so bad, eh?

3. How do you get bees into this hive? It doesn't seem to have a top. It doesn't seem to have any way to open it up at all. Do you buy a package of bees and feed them in through the outside hole, one bee at a time? That seems kind of insane.

4. It also looks like it will overheat. Those vent holes in Langstroth hives are there for a reason. And what overheats will also freeze in winter. Not to mention the lack of drainage for the condensate from curing the honey. We don't use heavy wooden boxes because we're unsophisticated cretins, but because bees like the insulation and moisture management of a thick wooden structure. A glass box in a window is not a good situation for bees.

5. The hive looks to be about 1/4 the size of what bees consider to be a good hive.

6. Small size, no moisture control, and no vents means bees will not like it, and bees will not stay where they will not like it, so chances are they would abscond before they made any honey, anyway. It's better that way: fewer bees in your apartment.

7. What is she doing with that stick thing? Is that supposed to be some kind of honey harvester? Or is it just a bee-angerer?

8. Looks ideal for wasps, though.

I went to design school. I know conceptual designs are there to show you the ways that you might be boxing yourself in unintentionally. I know how concepts work, indeedy. But I also know, without a doubt, that nobody who worked on this project knew even the first thing about beekeeping.

posted by ayse on 02/23/14