Working with Bees - Apiary Days
There is no absolute guarantee that you will not be stung when in or nearby the Apiary and, moreover, the stinger could be any passing insect as well as one of the bees from the Apiary. Whatever, we will introduce you to the bees, and vice versa, in measured way - if you feel uneasy about close proximity you can take a step back, wait awhile and resume your experience with bees at your own pace.

There other personal hazards and risks when working in the Apiary and you must observe some commonsense protocols when in the Apiary, including:-
Working on the Hives: The British National Hives used in the Apiary comprise section boxes called 'supers' which can weigh upwards of 15 kilos (about 30 lbs) when loaded with honey and bees.

The exertion of the initial lift is likely to be greater with the bees plugging up the gaps between supers, sticking these together with a resinous bee-product called 'propolis' - you will be shown how to 'free-up' the stuck down parts and the lifting techniques best used to disassemble the hive components.

  Smoker Hazards
Do not attempt to lift anything that you feel uncomfortable with - if in doubt, you can practice manhandling on an empty hive.

Bee Suit Veils: You may not be used to viewing through the fine gauze veil of the bee suit helmet and first time users sometimes find it difficult to focus through the veil. If by chance you get a bee in the bonnet (inside the visor) then walk away from the hives, unzip and open up the visor to let the bee depart to make her way back to the hive.

Smoker Hazards   Smoker: You'll use a smoker to placate the bees when opening up the hives. The smoker is a metal cannister with smouldering embers inside, the smoke being puffed by air bellows - beware of the hot metal surfaces and that over-vigorous smoking can expel sparks.

For smoker fuel, avoid paper with inked surfaces and other chemicals that might upset the bees - plain egg cartons, toilet roll cardboard cores, pine cones, dry leaves, etc., are useful fuels - the bees will quickly let you know if the smoke contains any objectionable substances!

Bee smoking, like the other kind of puffing, can be dangerous to your and others' health - make sure you know where the fire extinguisher is in the green shed!

Pheromones: You will learn that the bees, both individually and acting as colony, are strongly motivated by pheromones and scents. When handling bees best avoid the use of strongly scented soaps and perfumes beforehand.

Once you have the confidence you can have a go at handling the bees or, if you prefer, simply sit back and observe others. Please read and understand the Oxleas Wood Apiary Risk Assessment before you visit the Apiary for the first time.

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