Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To Veil, Or Not To Veil....

We get a lot of inquiries about our use (or lack thereof) of protective gear when we work the bees.  And it is true, I do not own a bee suit or gloves, and use my veil sparingly.  You are likely to find me in the hives in shorts and a tee-shirt in summer, and on my roof generally in bare feet.

There are a couple of reasons for that:
  • I'm lazy;
  • Vision is hampered in a veil, especially if one is looking for eggs;
  • Our mission includes promotion of bees as gentle and non-aggressive.

Do I get stung?  Absolutely.  Sometimes I can get into a hive and have no problems, just a little smoke and they are quiet as mice.  Other times, they hit me repeatedly like kamikazes.  The former is more generally the outcome.

Does it hurt?  Sure, a little, but the lingering affects of swelling are the greater aliment.  Thankfully, after hundreds of stings (yes hundreds) I am finally building up a modest resistance to the bee venom.

Note that we take a lot of our cues from the FatBeeMan Don Kuchenmeister who is similarly fearless around his hives.
During our classes, we provide veils for folks to wear around the hives, which they do.

With our kids, it is a different story.  If you have a child, you know how difficult it is to tell them what to do, and if they don't want to wear a veil, like tough love, I leave it up to them.  And it has consequences:

This is Kaitlin (our No. 1) after she entered a hive to pull a frame for a bee display she was managing.  Note the swelling around the lip, eye, and ego!

And this is Maddie (No. 2) who got stung on the finger while carrying a nuc and who then had a bad enough reaction that it warranted the emergency room.  Note the irony of the "Got Bees" t-shirt she is wearing!  Obviously, a veil would not have mattered in this case, but this is for illustrative purposes...

So bad parenting?  I'm more of the view that raising a kid in a plastic bubble is both unkind and belays the realities they should expect when they reach maturity.  So a little controlled pain is not necessarily a fault.  Maybe they will wear a veil next time?

Then is it do as I say, not as I do?  I think you should decide for yourself what feels most comfortable for you.  I think requiring oneself to put on a bulky suit in the middle of summer before hitting the hives might hinder one from spending time there.  But at the end of the day it is about personal preference.

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