A beekeeper must keep the bees in control every time the hive is open. A typical hive can house thousands of workers all capable of stinging.
There are measures a beekeeper can take in the open that he can not take in the city because of the closeness of other people.
Using A Bee Keeper’s Smoker
Smoke is the most important tool for the beekeeper opening a hive. Smoke should be used in moderation, but the smoker should be capable of producing large volumes of smoke on short notice.
The beekeeper must smoke the entrance of the hive, under the cover, and periodically smoke the frames while the hive is open. Try not to jar the hive or the frames as that may anger the bees, which will make it hard for a beekeeper to do his work.
The beekeeper must work quickly and carefully. By going through the frames several times a year, the beekeeper keeps the frames movable. Remove any excess combs.
Using gloves when working with bees make the beekeeper clumsier and he may lose control of the hive. The stings that the gloves are protecting you from are easily removed and the pain quickly passes.
Other Clothing and Equipment
One of the most important pieces of clothing a beekeeper wears is the veil.
Bee stings on the face can be very painful and there is the possibility of damage to the eyes and ears.
If by chance a bee gets inside the veil, walk away from the hives and remove the bees. Never remove the veil when you are in with the hives.
Use protective clothing to avoid getting hive product on your regular clothes. Be certain to protect the most sensitive areas of your body.
Avoid dark or rough textured clothes. Bees are able to hold on to a rough texture material better than smooth material. A loose fitting, smooth textured, windbreaker jacket will help you to avoid being stung. It is best to wear white or light colored coveralls as you’ll be more aware of bees that have landed on you than had you been in dark clothing.
If you are not using boots, do not wear dark socks. Boots that fasten over the coveralls or are well within the coveralls are best.
Pants, veil, and sleeves should be fastened securely to prevent bees from getting into your clothes. If a bee does get into your clothing, squeeze it in the clothing or walk away from the hives and open up your clothing to allow the bee to escape.
Before handling bees, do not use any sweet smelling cologne, hair styling aids, or any other cosmetic products. The odor may irritate or attract the bees.
Gloves should be used sparingly. Gloves are useful during bad weather or when moving colonies, but gloves can hinder your range of motion. Without the interference of gloves, you will find that the bees respond better to your steady and light touch.
Wild Honey Hunt – Old Fashioned Way
In the old days, when on a search for wild honey a ‘hunter’ would, after determining the location of the hive, smash the hive. This would send the bees into a frenzy of collecting the spilled honey, and once gorged, find themselves too fat to fight.
However, it was still common practice for these gentlemen to stupefy or confuse the bees with the fumes of burning sulfur or with tobacco smoke.
This practice evolved into the use of a bee keeper’s smoker (see some on sale – smoker) as we know it today.