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April 16, 2008

On the weekend, I started my beekeeping course. It was the two-day practical component; there is also written work to submit. The bees were absolutely mesmerising. The pine needle smoke from the smoker, the buzz of a hive and the Sydney autumn weather combined to be hypnotising….I had to snap myself out of the dream-like state, to listen to the lecturer…Mr Bees NSW. Whilst we were all fully suited, he worked the hives without protective clothing….”To give us (students) confidence!”.

Now for the work of organising some hives (2…so that if anything goes wrong with one, the healthy one can help you save the one with problems), where to put them etc. etc. To keep bees in NSW (and I’m assuming in other states) you need to register with the Department of Primary Industry and join a bee association to get public liability insurance but you know, red tape – I’m used to.

Pollination of the garden and honey for home use is what initially interested me….. and the eucalyptus that tower over my vegetable garden produce some of the best honey flora…….negatives into positives and all that.

Now for some bee miscellany:

1. They don’t like rhododendrons.

2. If stung by a bee, do not pull out the sting – that only pushes more venom into your skin. Instead, scratch out the sting with a fingernail.

3. Bees don’t like dark colours, wool or anything fluffy.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2008 11:56 am


    We’d like to keep some bees. Could you tell me a bit more about the course? Is there a website, or contact details that you’d be happy to publish?

    Regards, Gary

  2. April 16, 2008 9:41 pm

    Wow, that’s so cool. I really wanted to have bees at Treehouse eventually. I did some reading up – it was quite complicated from a book. Doing a hands-on course was my next step… ah well. Good luck! I’ll expect some toast & honey next time I’m up…

  3. April 16, 2008 10:09 pm

    Gary – the course is run through TAFE OTEN in NSW. It’s a correspondence course with a field day.

    Also check out the NSW Dept. of Primary Industry, they often run short week end courses too:

    Anaglyph – Sure….if you want honey from my bees, you’ll have to wait a year or so!

  4. xltilde permalink
    April 16, 2008 10:18 pm

    I’ve done a little hive-robbing in my time, my mum’s bees (who were nice), and her neighbour’s which had gone a bit wild due to lack of attentions, and were not nice. I was ill-suited for those last, and they stung me quite a few times. ‘The trick is’, as T.E. Lawrence said, ‘not minding that it hurts’. If you mind, the bees notice that, and it makes them more enthusiastic in the stinging. They will get stuck in your hair if they can, and they will find any gap in your protective clothing, and if you get excited they will too, only more so. Nevertheless, I like bees.

    I’m envious of your course!

    I understand bees also don’t particularly like clouds, and wind.


  5. Kathy permalink
    April 16, 2008 10:42 pm

    I am told they also don’t like strong sweet smells, like shampoo, and the colour blue is either something they like or don’t, I forget! Sorry!

    Calmness is essential. I robbed my hive the last time just before a storm hit (I didn’t feel it coming, but they knew)and I was badly stung all over my head, went into a strange altered state of consciousness for 5 days (very pleasant), and couldn’t face them again, unfortunately, because I had loved the process until I got scared. Then James came up and robbed them for me for a few years until I sold them.

    There is a fabulously interesting book called The Beekeeper’s Pupil, by Sara George. Fiction, but based on fact.

    I wish you much joy and fabulous honey from the adventure, Nada!

  6. April 17, 2008 10:31 pm

    JR: Good tip about not minding the pain. The guy running the course was stung twice and he just grimaced and got on with it.

    Kathy: Being stung like that would shock anyone. It really is a fear of mine but I think that I’ll wear my gear until my experience and confidence builds.

    Strong scents they don’t like; perfumes and such – but then again I understand that.

  7. Kathy permalink
    April 18, 2008 12:51 am

    Nada, I was wearing my gear, but a bee got inside, so I did what I normally did, i.e., moved away from the hive, removed the head piece to get rid of the bee, and they attacked en masse.

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