I got arrogant. Four months of beekeeping had not yielded a single sting with no attempt even being made at trying to penetrate my protective clothing. Why would I need smoke or veil or jacket or gloves just to snug the frames together quickly?
With the lid removed and one hand set to remove the inner cover, my days without incident reset from infinity to zero.
Turns out that three consecutive days approaching 100 degrees fahrenheit not only makes people grumpy, but honeybees as well.
I get stung frequently unrelated to beekeeping mostly owing to my immense joy in going barefoot when not actively engaged in some activity that requires shod feet. Most of those activities involve walking on turf containing white clover. Stings themselves are completely devoid of pain. The initial sting still sends the subconscious alarm signal that screams “THIS SENSATION IS NOT NORMAL” and sets off the surge of adrenaline that initiates the flight response. When the stinger is removed promptly, the venom only causes 30-90 seconds of mild soreness.
One of my ladies got me square in the elbow. Partly due to the aforementioned arrogance and partly due to recognizing a valuable learning opportunity, I left the stinger in to show my friend how to properly remove it once we had retreated to a safe distance. Scraping sideways with a fingernail is the proper method avoid injecting the remaining venom in the eviscerated venom sac that is ripped from the bee’s organs resulting it is Kamikaze like death.
The result: 2 days feeling like I chipped my elbow bone. Instead of sunlight being my morning alarm, it was the pain from rolling over onto my elbow due to the habit of side-sleeping that multiple shoulder surgeries instilled.
Lesson learned: Use smoke and wear protection! I was lucky to escape with stings only on my arms and torso while my unveiled face eluded the wrath of my hive.