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“ We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole ”
- Henri Cartier Bresson
Lensblr Quote of the Day(via lensblr-network)
"Bumblebee Wolf" (Philanthus bicinctus)
…a species of solitary Crabronid wasp that is native to the central United States. Like its European cousin P. bicinctus, despite its common name is a simple herbivore and feeds on pollen and nectar. Only female bumblebee wolves will track down bees, specifically bumblebees (Bombus spp.), and paralyze them. Once the bee is paralyzed the female will place it underground with one of her eggs. With the bee’s fate becoming food for the wasp’s larva once it hatches.
Image: ©Hartmut Wisch
Benjamin Chee Chee’s birds
Les Moyens d’Existence, 1969. René Magritte. Color etching on Japon nacré
Why use smoke to control/calm bees?
I rarely use a smoker or veil when working my girls. I know my bees, I listen to them and can tell by their buzz and flights if they accept my presence.
This is not the norm, if I encounter wild or swarm bees, if i am installing a nuc or queening, I always wear a veil and use a little sugar water to distract them.
So when is smoke necessary? I find the adage that bees think their home is on fire and load up with honey incase of a quick exit isn’t bee like. After all the queen can’t fly with them. Personally I think it disrupts the Queens powerful pheromones which controls the hives actions. Left to their own devices without direction and control they go into everyone for themselves mode.
Smoke also lingers (ever been in a house that had a fire), it can, and will disrupt the queen and its workers for days. Our visits are intrusive enough with breaking apart their hive and probing around. Don’t make the mistake of smoking them into a tizzy.
If you must smoke. One or two puffs at the hives entrance. One puff under the top cover. Never smoke bees directly.
So learn how to light a smoker, I use pine leaves, wood shavings, burlap bags or bay leaves. Use a blow torch with an on/off switch.
1. You want a properly working smoker that will be ready for the duration of the inspection.
2. Always test the smoker on your skin to make sure its not too hot.
3. Smoke yourself, head, hair, arms, pant legs.
4. Set the smoker within reach in a safe area. where the smoke can blow your way. Nothing like a grass fire and angry bees.
5. Always choose sugar water sprays instead of smoke.
6. And if they are too aggressive don’t fight them. Close it up for another day.
You may smell like a BBQ but a least you will have the respect of your bees and a lot less stings.