Frequent commenter, sibling, and bon vivant Uncle Fishy recently set up a backyard beehive, but lately he’s been worried about the bees. This came up in a recent online chat:
Dr. Free-Ride: So, what’s worrisome about your bees?
Uncle Fishy: i dont know if they’ll make it
Dr. Free-Ride: 🙁
Uncle Fishy: there were fewer coming out to sting me last night
Uncle Fishy: maybe it was just past their bedtime
Dr. Free-Ride: Maybe they had better things to do than sting you again
Uncle Fishy: well, I may be attriting more of them that I need
Uncle Fishy: I may not yet have a queen
Dr. Free-Ride: Uh oh
Dr. Free-Ride: How do you get a queen?
Uncle Fishy: there are queen cells
Uncle Fishy: one of them should hatch
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh
Uncle Fishy: (and kill the others)
Uncle Fishy: but I also have little ants invading the hive and that pisses them off real good
Dr. Free-Ride: Ant invasions piss me off, too
Dr. Free-Ride: Can you videotape the killing and post it on YouTube?
Uncle Fishy: Uh….no….?
Uncle Fishy: I’m a commoner
Uncle Fishy: I cant be a party to the coronation
Dr. Free-Ride: But as the bee keeper, certainly you’re entitled to install video surveillance
Uncle Fishy: I’ll have to wait until we get this for the bedroom
Uncle Fishy: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/observationhive.phtml
Dr. Free-Ride: WANT!
Uncle Fishy: I like the padlocks
Dr. Free-Ride: Would your landlord be cool with it?
Uncle Fishy: I doubt it
Uncle Fishy: although every time i turn on the AC I get wasps blown into the house
Uncle Fishy: so we already have a stinging insect observation area of sorts
Dr. Free-Ride: But it’s not explicitly forbidden in the rental agreement, is it?
Uncle Fishy: they live on site….
Dr. Free-Ride: Hmmm
Uncle Fishy: my bees are at the community garden
Dr. Free-Ride: Can you maybe drape it with scarves?
Uncle Fishy: the bees hate that
Uncle Fishy: trust me
Dr. Free-Ride: You’ve draped bees with scarves before?
Uncle Fishy: haven’t you?
Dr. Free-Ride: I was never that into dress-up games
Dr. Free-Ride: with stinging insects
Uncle Fishy: the kids should see the bees next time you’re in town (provided they live)
Uncle Fishy: the bees that is
Dr. Free-Ride: The better half noticed honeybees among the bumblebees in our trellis flowers
Dr. Free-Ride: And I totally thought, “We should provide them with a hive”
Uncle Fishy: they know what they’re doing
Uncle Fishy: it’s tough catching them one at a time
Dr. Free-Ride: Can’t I encourage them to squat?
Dr. Free-Ride: “If this was your hive, you’d be home already”?
Dr. Free-Ride: With colorful condo flags?
Uncle Fishy: what with colony collapse there’s a whole shadow inventory of hives
Uncle Fishy: the bees have their pick
Uncle Fishy: RMD only got stung once on the top of the head
Uncle Fishy: we may get her a veil too
Dr. Free-Ride: Do you go full beekeeper ?
Uncle Fishy: I have a veil
Uncle Fishy: I use yellow dishwashing gloves
Uncle Fishy: and a heavy shirt
Uncle Fishy: got stung twice through my jeans
Dr. Free-Ride: (Hmm, you seem to be telling me that bees are stingy)
Uncle Fishy: well, mine are
Uncle Fishy: but after the first sting it bothers you less and less
Dr. Free-Ride: Maybe they heard from the mosquitos about your vulnerability
Uncle Fishy: I haven’t tried them as a beard yet
Dr. Free-Ride: I’d start with a goatee
Dr. Free-Ride: Or maybe a bee soul patch
Uncle Fishy: i thought I’d just put honey on my beard and see what comes of it
Dr. Free-Ride: Ants!
Uncle Fishy: nobody wants a beard of ants
Dr. Free-Ride: Might give you a stronger, more lustrous beard
Dr. Free-Ride: (the honey, not the ants)
Dr. Free-Ride: What if you put royal jelly on your beard?
Dr. Free-Ride: Then the bees who augment the beard could be queens!
Uncle Fishy: you should really get your own bees….
Dr. Free-Ride: We have bees
Dr. Free-Ride: But they’re wild
Uncle Fishy: um
Uncle Fishy: tamed
Dr. Free-Ride: Yours don’t sound especially tamed
Dr. Free-Ride: ours don’t sting me
Dr. Free-Ride: I’m just saying
Dr. Free-Ride: why wouldn’t it be worth seeing if a honeybee colony could be lured to a hive by mere location?
Uncle Fishy: hmmm
Uncle Fishy: not likely
Dr. Free-Ride: We surely have an array of pretty flowers with which to bump uglies
Uncle Fishy: the traditional method is to find the swarm
Dr. Free-Ride: How do you do that?
Dr. Free-Ride: Is that something I can trick someone else into doing?
Uncle Fishy: I saw one in a loquat tree on echo park ave a month back
Uncle Fishy: well, there are bee traps
Uncle Fishy: or you can do a cut out
Dr. Free-Ride: What are they like?
Uncle Fishy: a big cardboard flower pot with pheremones
Dr. Free-Ride: And they sell them on the internet?
Dr. Free-Ride: How many bees must there be for it to count as a swarm?
Dr. Free-Ride: (And most swarms probably don’t include a queen, right?)
Uncle Fishy: no, they all do
Uncle Fishy: that’s the point
Uncle Fishy: a swarm is a queen and half the hive decamping
Uncle Fishy: and finding a new home
Uncle Fishy: (that’s also when they’re in the beard wearing phas)
Dr. Free-Ride: So, a bunch of bees w/out a queen is just a bunch of bees
Uncle Fishy: yep
Uncle Fishy: or a gaggle really
Dr. Free-Ride: And I suppose it would be pointless or cruel to attract a gaggle of bees
Dr. Free-Ride: then provide them a hive
Dr. Free-Ride: where they could live free of the crushing heel of a monarch
Uncle Fishy: it be like building long term housing for a bunch of shakers
Dr. Free-Ride: only to purchase a new queen to boss them around once they’re settled in
Uncle Fishy: well, that’s possible
Dr. Free-Ride: wouldn’t the gaggle be pissed?
Uncle Fishy: but you cant just add the queen
Dr. Free-Ride: and sting me
Uncle Fishy: they’ll kill her
Dr. Free-Ride: Hmm
Uncle Fishy: you put her in a a litttle cage with this thing they eat through
Dr. Free-Ride: so the queen needs to be one of theirs
Uncle Fishy: (to try to kill her)
Uncle Fishy: and by the time they get her out they’re all used to her and she’s the queen
Uncle Fishy: a bloodless coup
Dr. Free-Ride: the whole genetic homogeneity thing
Uncle Fishy: it’s all scent based
Uncle Fishy: actually
Dr. Free-Ride: then there ought to be a way to trick them
Uncle Fishy: there is
Uncle Fishy: it’s like adding a goldfish to a bowl
Dr. Free-Ride: we always had great luck with that
Dr. Free-Ride: NOT
Uncle Fishy: well, the other goldfish didn’t sting the one in the bag, did they
Uncle Fishy: that would be much worse
Dr. Free-Ride: Although stingers on goldfish, conceptually, would be kind of cool
Uncle Fishy: yeah. it was a joy when I tried to noodle a bass in NC as a kid…..
Uncle Fishy: stingy
Dr. Free-Ride: with a real noodle?
Uncle Fishy: with my hands
Dr. Free-Ride: (what does it mean to noodle a bass?)
Uncle Fishy: you’re not familiar with the term
Dr. Free-Ride: no
Uncle Fishy: grab a bass
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh
Uncle Fishy: catfish noodling is a popular southern activity
Dr. Free-Ride: grab has fewer syllables than noodle
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, but in the south the relaxed pace of life allows for more syllables
Uncle Fishy: per the internets
Uncle Fishy: http://www.catfishgrabblers.com/grabblinis.htm
Dr. Free-Ride: So why are bass sting-y?
Dr. Free-Ride: Prickles, or scales, or what?
Uncle Fishy: spines in the dorsal fins
Uncle Fishy: trust me, it hurt
Dr. Free-Ride: Ah
Dr. Free-Ride: I trust you
Dr. Free-Ride: the slime coat is enough to put me off fish handling
Dr. Free-Ride: (Now there’s a sect that never took off)
Uncle Fishy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodling
Uncle Fishy: I actually realized I caught a brown trout after a series of rainbow because the slime felt different. And then I unhooked it and realized it was Salmo trutta and not O. mykiss
Dr. Free-Ride: Wow
Dr. Free-Ride: I totally don’t have that kind of fish-fu
Uncle Fishy: I use all the senses while fishing
Uncle Fishy: provided they’re keepers
Dr. Free-Ride: You don’t taste the fish while you’re catching them, do you?
Dr. Free-Ride: (or the bait?)
Uncle Fishy: I saw Dad kiss a sunfish once
Dr. Free-Ride: I heard him converse with seagulls more than once
Uncle Fishy: http://failblog.org/2009/04/01/warning-sign-fail-2/
Dr. Free-Ride: Dad should sue the sign maker for royalties
Dr. Free-Ride: (Did he kiss the sunfish after happy hour?)
Uncle Fishy: Is was one that actually got hooked
Uncle Fishy: rather than nibbling on the worms and being landed without even getting hooked
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, kissing the sunfish that are still in the lake is harder
Uncle Fishy: true
Dr. Free-Ride: Not impossible, if you’re committed to it
Uncle Fishy: my beekeeping club is really interesting too
Uncle Fishy: http://beehuman.blogspot.com/
Uncle Fishy: it’s sort of organic bee raising
Uncle Fishy: no foundations on frames mean bees make smaller comb
Uncle Fishy: which leads to smaller bees that seem to last better agaisnt varoa mites and the like
Dr. Free-Ride: Is that better for the bees?
Uncle Fishy: yeah
Uncle Fishy: no chemicals
Dr. Free-Ride: Interesting
Uncle Fishy: they hatch younger so the mites seem to bother them less
Dr. Free-Ride: probably somewhat lower honey yields?
Uncle Fishy: well, I suppose a larger comb would maximize volume
Uncle Fishy: but I haven’t done a max min problem not involving a sphere in years
Dr. Free-Ride: I’m guessing that optimizing bees as honey factories might weaken them with respect to surviving their environments (and mites and stuff)
Dr. Free-Ride: Dude, the White House garden has two bee hives?!
Uncle Fishy: yeah
Dr. Free-Ride: That’s pretty cool
Uncle Fishy: once again, I’m ahead of the curve….
Dr. Free-Ride: Now I can couch my quest for bees as an act of patriotism
Uncle Fishy: it’ll be as popular as mushroom hunting
Dr. Free-Ride: Some people will not groove on mushroom hunting unless it is done with rifles
Uncle Fishy: it’s not a new world bug
Uncle Fishy: you might have jingoist bumble bees
Uncle Fishy: (i dont know if they’re a new world species either but I’d guess they are)
Dr. Free-Ride: I understand that non-honey bees also make a honey like substance
Dr. Free-Ride: we should learn to like that
Uncle Fishy: yes, but not in vast quanities
Dr. Free-Ride: I mean, bee vomit is bee vomit
Uncle Fishy: like, no one makes llama milk cheese
Uncle Fishy: (they might but I don’t think they do)
Dr. Free-Ride: I’d rather milk a llama than a gorilla
Dr. Free-Ride: Just saying
Uncle Fishy: or a mountain lion
Dr. Free-Ride: Yes