Friday, May 6, 2011

Covered in bees! Help!

I've been doing more sketching to get ready for making more tiles and cups. Thing is, as much as I love drawing, it feels more like I'm procrastinating. I need to just sit down and make the cups and tiles. I've been doing studies for a couple weeks now, and I only made one tile (see above). I really like the way my Thumbelina tile came out, though!

I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Even with a house full of people to help me watch the baby, it's still hard to find uninterrupted time to work. Not to mention I'd much rather snuggle with Maddy than get any real work done. I don't think anyone can blame me for that;)

I start back at the clay studio on 18th, so that will at least be time devoted to making and doing. I'm pretty excited to get back in there. I'm debating which craft fairs to apply to this year, if any. Should I just stick to Etsy and applying for juried shows? I'm just not sure what I can handle yet. I wish I could hire an assistant!

Unrelated to ceramics, I had a pretty eventful day today. My husband is a beekeeper, and he's been getting new hives built and ready for three new boxes of bees. I haven't taken pics of the hives yet, but they are really cool! He's trying a different kind of hive than the traditional langstroth hive. This year he built two topbar hives, which are supposed to be a more natural way of keeping bees, allowing them to make their own comb from scratch instead of using man made frames of beeswax. You can check out this website if you want more info about this type of beekeeping. It's really fascinating!
Top bar hive

Anyway, today his first hive swarmed, which is to say that they felt their hive was overcrowded, so they left the hive en masse along with the queen, and sat along the back fence on our neighbors property. He came knocking on our door this morning to tell us they had swarmed, and my husband was at work and couldn't get off. So, brilliant woman that I am, I decided to try to go out there and catch them myself. Normally you try to knock the whole mass into a box, seal it quick, and then replace it in a new hive, or expand their original one. Thing is, Nich had told me they are somewhat docile when they swarm because they're distracted by the queen. I totally overestimated how docile they would be, and went out there without a protective helmet! Dumbest move ever, right? In my defense, I wasn't quite awake yet, and was a little panicked over the thought of losing our established hive, which had been thriving.

Not my pic - I pulled this from Google - but this is what a swarm looks like.
They stung me about 8 times in the face, ears, and neck, and I had to go to the hospital because I had a moderate allergic reaction. Now I'm all swollen and sore, and I have to take benedryl and steroids for a couple days. This is particularly stupid on my part, because you can't take benedryl while breastfeeding, something that didn't even occur to me when I went out there, knowing there was a chance I might get stung at least once. Thankfully I have some breastmilk stored in the deep freeze to make it thru a day of taking benedryl, and then hopefully I'll be ok by then.

I just want to be clear - this is not something that happens all the time! Nich has kept bees for years now, and most of the time they do not sting us. Bees are not aggressive, and we've been known to be able to open the hive without them even stirring, even without using a smoker. I've walked through small clouds of bees in order to refill the sugar water at their hive, and as long as I'm calm and don't bother them, I never get stung. I did that every week last summer without wearing any protective gear at all. Bees do not attack you unless they have good reason, because they don't survive the sting. We normally feel very safe keeping bees. In today's case, I just felt a little too safe, and took for granted the fact that they're still an animal that can hurt you if you don't respect them. Today was just a total loss of rationality on my part. You can't whack a ball of bees into a box and expect them to not get angry! Lesson learned.

The good news is, we did get the bees into a box, and Nich will reinstate them in a new home tomorrow morning. There is also a chance that the swarm was a split with a new queen, and that we might actually get two hives out of this ordeal instead of just saving the one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we just got a free hive out this adventure!