First time bee keeper!

Field Blog by International Intern, Louise Warden

I’ll be honest… I was scared for tonight, just wanted it to be over already! We all suited up in our bee keeper suites with funny netted head pieces, I felt more like a Teletubbies reject than a professional bee keeper. We all spent ages checking our suites for holes and taping up any possible routes in for the angry African honey bees we were about to disturb. I didn’t go out the night before, but I heard a guy got stung right in the ear… ouch! So, we’re all kitted out with bee suites, gloves and torches with red light, which I’ve been told makes the bees less angry than shining bright white light into their 5 tiny eyes. Yes, I did say they have 5 eyes to track me down and sting me! Despite all this we head out and weave our way through fields of maize taller than me. I’m not the fittest so I really had to push hard to not fall behind the three 6ft tall guys charging ahead in front of me, took all my concentration to not tumble down one of the many holes scattered across the field.

Getting ready for night work.  Photo: Tess Morrisson


Light held over super box during honey harvesting. Photo: Madi Chan


As it’s my first time I’ve been given the prized position of chief light holder, I’m glad I could be involved without having to stick my hands right into the angry bees’ home! Using plenty of smoke the top of the hive is delicately removed revealing thousands of buzzing bees wondering why four giants are peering over the top of the hive looking at them. I’m trying not to make eye contact with any of the bees which is very hard as they have 5 eyes! My logic… if I don’t make eye contact, I don’t look like a threat and I won’t get stung.

Checking hives during honey harvesting. Photo: Madi Chan


Obviously, I know this was silly and within minutes I had plenty of bees crawling all over my Teletubby bee suite. The loud buzzing sound right next to my ears was unnerving enough without watching them crawl just millimetres in front of my face knowing they were angry at me for disrupting their home. After being so worried about being stung the experience wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, and I didn’t get stung. The bees still had the last laugh though as a couple of days later I’m sat in the office after honey processing and a bee proceeds to sting me right on the chin! I later learn I must have had some honey on me the bee was using as a homing beacon to track me down and take its sweet revenge!

Nightwork in Sagalla. Photo: Madi Chan



The views, opinions and position expressed in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy and position of Save the Elephants


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