Matt and His Bees Rock in Columbia Tusculum

I visited Matt’s hives with him yesterday. He keeps two top-bar hives in his home garden—right there at the center of Columbia Tusculum, Matt tends a wonderful little garden (he’s also very very involved in tending the Columbia Tusculum community garden on Columbia Parkway…just above Starbucks). Fruit trees and vegetables and flowers and bees all live and work their magic there.

Notice that Matt’s hands are bare during this inspection. He usually wears gloves, but he also usually gets stung…and Matt experiences quite a significant local reaction to bee stings! But wearing gloves doesn’t seem to eliminate the stings. So, I encouraged Matt to go at it barehanded. Sometimes I laugh at myself for encouraging behaviors like that.

Many of us find that we’re more dexterous barehanded. Fewer clumsy movements translates into fewer riled-up bees which translates into fewer stings. So, Matt braved it with naked hands. And he got stung. Sorry, Matt. But he gets stung anyway, so I don’t feel too terrible about it. Sorry about that, too, Matt.

Next challenge for Matt: We’ve got to find a hat and veil that look good, that work well, and that fit his minimalist approach to beekeeping. I’m not crazy about his current version. He can save his current hat/veil combo for visitors to his hives…I think I’ve got a good idea for a new hat and veil set up for Matt. He’s gonna look great in it. Trust me.


Matt and a bar of his bees


The queen (she's touching the wooden bar)
Matt's peach tree (from which he gave me beautiful peaches)
Deb's swollen hand (she doesn't usually wear a ring on her pinky!)

A Bee Got Her

Deb got stung by one of her uncle Doyle’s bees.

We spent a couple of days on the farm in Waco, Kentucky; and when we visited with her uncle Doyle, we all went out to look at his bees. He has only one hive now, but it’s stacked with six honey supers…it’s tall, and you can’t believe my envy.

The bees sort of gave us a warning that we were too close, so we moved back a little bit. But then Deb got stung. And while her uncle Doyle looked through his pocket for his knife with which to scrape the stinger out, Deb pulled it out. I think that’s why she swelled so badly.

Here’s the rule of thumb: When you get stung, don’t pull the stinger out…scrape it off. When you pull a stinger from your skin, you milk MORE venom into your bloodstream. That whole stinger is loaded with bee venom and it’s designed to pulsate poison long after the bee is gone…if you can keep your wits about you, try to grab either a pocket knife, or a hive tool, or a credit card, or something with a sharp edge to it…a good fingernail will do. Then scrape the stinger off where it enters your skin. This way, the venom stays in the stinger and not in you.

Deb will not be golfing today—her hand won’t grip the club. And after icing it all the way home and taking two Aleve, a couple of Benadryl, and some Tagamet (all antihistamines of sorts) she may not wake up today, either.

Deb's swollen hand (she doesn't usually wear a ring on her pinky!)
Deb's swollen hand (she doesn't usually wear that ring on her pinky!)