The Bee Beard Experience
At WSU's beekeeping short course, Dr. Tim Lawrence and Sue Cobey offer beekeepers the opportunity to get closer to bees . . . by wearing a "beard" of tens of thousands of them! LCBA Treasurer Rick Battin and Journeyman candidate Nancy Toenyan took on the bee beard challenge this year. . . .
Here's how it begins: Dr. Tim Lawrence pins queens in cages onto Rick's collar (Rick writes, "Don't try this at home..."):
Then the person previously wearing the bee beard jumps to dislodge the bees, who fly to the new bearer of the queen cages:
Below, Rick writes: "There is a lot going on here. 20,000-25,000 bees re-clustering. The amount of air flow from the "swarm" was amazing. If you zoom in and out a bit on this shot you get some idea. I've been keeping bees for a bit, but this was the closest I've been to so many in flight, with or without some type of protection. Also, the previous guy is in the background here talking about all the bees in his shirt that are stinging him, which doesn't do much for the calm state I'm trying to maintain."
Below, Sue Cobey smoking Rick's bees to help mute alarm pheromones. Rick writes, "Sue Cobey is a rock star of bee genetics. She established and maintains the New World Carniolan breeding program, and I am a huge fan of the queens they produce. It's an privilege to be in her smoke."
Below, Rick writes, "Due to Sunlight, they moved to my left side. The inner part of my arm on that side had some sharp pains I thought might be stings, it was the tiny claws of some bees anchoring in my skin to chain off of. A bit red after, but no big deal. I tried to keep the embroidered bee on my LCBA shirt clear but it didn't quite work. . . ."
" . . . but the back did!"
Below, Rick writes, "I think the way my hair is totally covered is pretty sweet. . . "
Below, "I was encouraged to smile, but with so many girls in flight it doesn't seem like a good idea to have your mouth open very long":
"There's a bug on my shirt? Where?"
Responding to the "how are you doing in there?" question:
"Bee jackets: they're warmer than you think!"
Below, "Sue looking for the one stinger I got hit with. smoke at the location prevents the alarm phermone from being picked up by others. You can also see the bees that chained between my arm and body":
Rick writes, below, "As fun as it was, there was a point I said "Yea, I think I'm done with this experience. . . "
Above, LCBA Treasurer Rick Battin wearing bee beard at WSU Beekeeping Short Course; below, LCBA member Nancy Toenyan standing tall covered in girls:
Below, Rick writes, "Nancy lets a bee from the beard swarm crawl around on her head while deciding if she wants about 25,00 more. . . ."
"Below, she decided to do it, and was up next":
"First, the caged queens are gently transferred," below:
Below, "with a single jump and a stiff landing most of the bees are dislodged":
Below, Rick writes, "I back away as Nancy moves into position":
Bees cluster on Nancy now:
Rick writes, "The LCBA logo and another sweet bee accented hairstyle":
"They settled into a bee turtleneck":
Below, the queens are transferred again . . . and the bee beard beat goes on!
The landing of the jump:
Rick writes, "Go! Back! Back! Back! It can be a bit intense at times, but great care and well planned movements help keep the bees in a calm state":
Later in the event, Sue Cobey gets a bee beard. Scroll up to the top of the page to see Rick passing his bee beard to Nancy. . . Below, Rick comments, "The math on this guys T-shirt Venn diagram checks out":