Earlier this month I headed east to watch my nephew graduate from high school. It’s sometimes hard for me to believe that both my niece and nephew have officially reached adulthood while my children are still shifting into school-aged children from toddlerdom. It was a great graduation ceremony in the Maryland Theater in downtown Hagerstown.
While east I took the opportunity to venture into DC for a headshot session for a young aspiring actor and before I left I squeezed in some time to photograph my sister-in-law’s new apiary.
She’s still playing around with the name of her apiary. Taking into consideration the trees surrounding her yard, I am trying to convince her she should name it Pine Comb Apiary. What? I think it’s cute!
She bundled us both up in protective covering with a warning that sometimes the bees still find a way to get inside. Since I have small children, I couldn’t help but have “think bee” running through my head as I tried to be intentional about staying calm so I didn’t inadvertently swat a bee and rile up the ladies. Deep breaths, Audrey!
You’d never know she’s all new to this. Well, I’d never know, maybe an experienced bee keeper would see nuanced behaviors that I do not. I’ve read that some old-timers don’t even wear the sting-proof gloves. I’m not sure if it’s just a supreme comfortableness that develops between your colony and yourself, or if you simply become immune to the pain of stings after enough zaps.
As she checked each of her two hives, carefully pulling out the frames and checking for eggs to see that the queen was active and healthy, the bees hummed around us curious about their intruders. When I got close for too long it seemed to agitate the bees. One intruder they tolerated, two – one of which was getting close with a camera – made them nervous when the hive was so exposed. When I started noticing little bodies dive-bombing me I backed off and shot from further away, or walked around to the other side of the set up. It was a strategy that worked while still allowing me to see all the things.
And let’s face it, I wanted to see ALL of the things.
In a few shots of the bee covered frames you can see the two white dotted queens. Rare, but also appearing in at least one of the photos, is a bee with a large orange sack of pollen on each of it’s rear legs. The majority of the bees you see in a hive, just about all of them, are worker bees. The workers in a hive are all female.
The only male bees in the hive are drones, and they neither have stingers nor participate in any of the work. Their entire purpose is to mate with the queen. They are quite a bit larger than the workers, but not as long as the queen. I was able to easily spot a few of them on a frame filled with smaller worker bees, though I’m sure there were more crawling around other frames. If you check out the images featuring the queen bees, you are more likely to spot the drones among the workers.
As it turned out while bees did dive-bomb my lens a time or two, no photographers were stung in the production of this photo story. Neither were any bee keepers, though the ninja bees did find a way inside of her shirt a time or two causing all frame inspection to halt as she carefully removed and shook out the curious bee.
Thanks, KC, for letting me peep your bees!