Why I Love My Veil and Gloves

That is, of course, my beekeeping veil and gloves.

I love them. Hat too, and jacket — I love them all. And I don’t care if experienced beekeepers laugh when they see me suited up like I’m working a hazmat task force.

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BeeKool Suit photo from beekeepclub.com.  And, for the record? We only got the jacket and veil, not the suit. (We’re no wusses.) On the other hand, I don’t believe I’ll ever check a hive in flip-flops.

The Engineer and I finally had occasion to don our new get-ups when we attended our beekeeping club’s monthly meeting. It convened in the bee yard (hat and veil required) where we watched a hive splitting demonstration.

This is just what it sounds like: the beekeeper takes one hive and divides it into two. Usually this is done to prevent swarming (which the bees do when they feel crowded), but may also be done to get more hives, to requeen, or to get more production. The keeper in this case demonstrated what’s called a walkaway split.

A walkaway split means you take a frame of eggs, two frames of emerging brood, frames of pollen and honey for them to eat, and make sure you have enough bees to care for the developing brood. You put on the lid, and walk away, leaving the bees to raise a new queen from the eggs.

Yep. They can actually do that. The difference between a queen and a worker bee is what they are fed as they develop. Pretty cool, eh?

Alternatively, you can introduce a new queen, at a cost of around $35.

The beekeeper doing the demo made two splits, one of each, and plans to watch the hives to discern if the purchased queen’s hive earns her keep by producing more honey.

You see, it takes about three weeks to raise a queen, which theoretically means the purchased queen’s hive should be three weeks ahead.

Do those three weeks translate to more honey?

I guess we’ll see.

But back to my veil and gloves (and jacket and hat). Wearing them made me feel comfortable enough to get close enough to really observe the bees, and to take pictures like this.

Opening the hive and taking out a frame of bees.

An open foam hive, with several frames removed, and its lid.

The hive in the foam box has an interesting story, beginning with city workers felling a tree that proved to have a hive inside. They took the tree to the bee club’s bee yard, but by the time someone got there to move the bees, they were gone. It was only later the beekeeper realized he had a hive in what had previously been an empty box. The bees had moved themselves.

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Here’s the rearview of a pretty girl who was sitting on my husband’s shoulder.

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And here she is, showing us her best side.

And that, dear friends, is why I love my veil and gloves.

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