Natural Honey


Amusing Beekeeping stories

After keeping honeybees for 40+ years I have been involved in many very funny stories.  I have included 2 below for your amusement.  They are all true.

Several years ago I went to inspect one of my apiaries and noted that one of the beehives had just swarmed.  They had formed a nice cluster about 20 feet up in the air in a tree.  The tree trunk was about 3 inches in diameter and was too weak for me to climb.  The height of the swarm was just higher then I could reach with my ladder so I decided I would shake the bees out of the tree and have them land on a tarp on the ground where I would capture them.  I carefully placed a tarp on the ground with an open beehive.  I very carefully aligned the open beehive where I had determined the bees would fall when I shook the tree.  I placed a rope around the tree and double checked my alignment.  Well, one thing about bee suits is that they are well suited for looking down but not really meant to look up so I  unzipped the hood on my suit so I could improve my accuracy when I shook the tree with the rope.  Everything was aligned and I gave the rope a big jerk.  Well, the entire swarm of bees came down and struck me right on my head with no veil on.  Some of the bees were down my bee suit and some under my shirt and right away they started to sting me.  Well, I quickly panicked and started to run and ended up running right into my electric fence that surrounded my beehives.  The electric fence is designed to keep out bears so as you can imagine it is a very powerful electric fence.  I was so concerned about the bees on my head and body that I had not seen the electric fence.  At this point I was thrown to the ground from the shock of the electric fence.  At first I figured that somebody must have shot me and after looking around  and not seeing any bullet wound I gradually figured out that I had not been shot and that it was only the electric fence.   At this point I was very relieved.   I think the electric fence also stunned some of the bees because it seemed like they had stopped stinging me but quickly they restarted to sting me.  At this point I had probably received about 20 beestings, more then I had ever had in my life.  I started to strip off my clothes and soon was standing in a field with just my boxers on looking around praying that no one had actually seen this.  Most of the bees had now flown back to the branch where the swarm originally was and had regathered in a clump again.  I can get rather stubborn and despite having a fair number of beestings I returned to my car to get another bee suite and decided I was going to get this swarm.  I used a hand saw and chopped the tree down and collected the swarm and brought  them back to my house.  The next morning when I went out the swarm had vanished.  One of the rare swarms I have lost. 

One time many years ago I was visiting a friend about 5 hours away and came across a nice bee swarm on a fence.  It seemed so easy to capture and although I did not have my bee suit I figured that if I came out at night an used a shovel I could gently push them into a cardboard box that I had constructed with screen ventilation.  The plan worked perfectly and I sealed the box and even put a sheet around the box to make sure that none of the bees would escape.    I placed the box in my trunk of my car.  I was planning to leave for home early the next morning.  The next morning I came out to find that bees were flying all around my car and inside my care.   Somehow they had gotten out of the box and were all inside the trunk and had found ways to get from the trunk to the main part of the car.  I had no choice but to drive back home because I had to get back for work.  I climbed into the car and opened all of the windows.  During the drive home bees would frequently land on my hand and I had to very gently put my hand out of the car window or very gently brush them away.  I gradually became more used to driving with all of the bees inside of the car.  The problem developed when I had to purchase gas.  At this point the only gas stations were still full service stations.   WhenI pulled up to the stationI started praying that no one would notice all of the bees in my car.  The attendant came out and started to fill up my car.  After a minute or so he commented that there seemed to be a lot of bees around.  I said nothing and hoped he would not look inside of my car.  All of a sudden he noticed all of the bees inside of the car and he started yelling.  Basically he wanted me to immediately leave and did not care if I paid for the gas or not.  He stated he would call the police unless I left immediately.  Several other drivers had gathered around and were pointing to my car.   I think I shoved some money on top of the pump and drove away with about a half filled gas tank.  I just had enough to make it home.  When I got home I immediately put on a bee suit and inspected what was left of my "box of bees".  Inside I found about 5 or 6 bees with the queen remaining.  The rest of the bees were gone with many still clinging to parts of the inside of the car.  I left all of the windows open hoping that some of the remaining bees would fly out of the car.    One point I neglected to say is that this was a new volvo my parents had recently purchased.  For years after this incident the car had a slight odor of dead bees to it and in any small crack you could find some remains of bees.  I remember feeding honey to the queen to try to keep her alive.  She died about 5 days later.