Managing the Inspection

My worst encounter was 4 or 5 years ago, I decided to inspect a colony not far from my home. It was a typical
day, early/mid July and the nectar supplies were starting to wane in our part of the country. As soon as I
cracked open the colony the bees were on me as if to say “NOT NOW!” I forged militaristically on. I was
looking for signs of the queen, a man on a mission, marching headstrong into this routine inspection and
nothing was going to stop me. I had to know, was she or wasn’t she healthy; was she placing those eggs side
by side, was she or wasn’t she making me a proud apiarist with only the highest quality queen in my apiary?

I pulled out the first frame; the bees were pelting my gloves like tiny laser guided missiles targeting an
enemy aggressor. I pulled out another frame, and bees were pounding the netting around my face; I pulled out
another frame and there were bees in the air everywhere, stinging my clothing; buzzing me; bumping my veil,
warning me to GET AWAY; it was insane. I quickly finished my inspection, closed up the hive, and made my
get-a-way. Before it was over, I had well over 200 stingers in my clothing—one of them penetrated my skin
but I can only imagine what I would have felt like had I not been wearing proper protective gear.

In retrospect, I learned a great deal from that experience. Had I determined before doing my inspection to
listen to the little ladies, I would not have been so ravenously attacked. They were quite nervous that day,
uncharacteristically so. I needed to slow down my inspection technique.

The key takeaway: FOR SAFETY’S SAKE, MANAGING THE INSPECTION IS AS IMPORTANT AS MANAGING THE COLONY.
My advice:
1. LISTEN to the LADIES (accept the occasion when the little ladies say “not today”).
2. ALWAYS wear protective gear (yes, there is always a rogue bee somewhere in the colony).
3. When the inspection HAS to occur today; use plenty of cool smoke and be patient after using your
smoker and allow some time prior to your inspection.

I routinely wear gloves, a nylon jacket and veil. The nylon jacket seems to be less prone to having bees rest on
it after an inspection, reducing the odds of catching you off-guard and subsequently, you getting stung when
removing the gear after an inspection.

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