We had quite an adventure here the other day. We were busily getting ready for a television crew to arrive....They wanted to do an interview and shoot some footage of the bees in action. So of course, I wanted everything to be perfect.
Because we often have afternoon rains here in summer, I decided to suit up and go into the bees early in the day to take out several frames of honeycomb that we could later extract honey from while the cameras were rolling. I noticed right away that the bees were not their usual gentle, happy selves. First, I was stung twice, right through my bee suit. There was no honey in the top super in any of the hives, so I had to go down to the next level, where I found three big fat juicy honeycombs just perfect and ready to go. I took them off and got out of there, wondering why my gentle girls were so grumpy.....It was a nice sunny day, which usually puts them in a good mood.
When I remove frames of honeycomb and shake the bees back into the hive, not all of the bees come off. There's usually a little cluster of busy workers who don't notice me at all and keep right on working.
So what I do is put them in an empty super (wooden box), and wheel them via hand truck through the yard. I stop just a few feet short of my back porch door, put a little branch with leaves on it in the box, and then go do something else for a half hour or so.
Typically, when I return, the bees have mostly gone home, and those who remain are happily perched on the branch. I remove the branch and shake it, and off they fly.
Typically. This day, however, was anything but typical! While I was eating lunch, biding my time before removing the branch, I looked outside and it looked like maybe it was snowing (in Miami in July). There was so much movement in the air. What the....?????? No, wait, it was just a ton of bees. I went to the back door to peek, and there were hundreds, if not thousands, of bees darting in and out of the super by the back door. They were not out for a joy ride, either. They had purpose, and they were pissed.
I called my buddy Steve to share. He said that the heavy rains of the night before had washed all of the nectar and pollen out of the flowers and that the bees had no sources of either and would be very cranky until the next day. No kidding!
Just my luck! 45 minutes before a tv crew full of uninitiated strangers shows up, I've got a sky full of bitchy bees zooming around. Never happened in my life! Timing is everything! I did suit up again and rescue one of the honeycombs. The other two I left behind. It wasn't worth the risk.
Lucky for me it started raining as soon as the crew arrived. They did their interview, we demonstrated a number of processes, and by the time the monsoons stopped, the bees had gone home.
I did, however, walk over to my nice honey filled honeycombs and..... they were empty! The bees had torn off the wax cappings that protect the honey for storage. They had sucked out every last drop of honey on those combs. It looked like hundreds of airborne piranhas had stopped by for lunch. It was amazing.
And it reminded me, that for all my love and affection, the bees have a definite sense of purpose regardless of my plans.....
Point well taken, girls....I'll watch the weather carefully and not venture in the day after it rains, ever again... I promise!