Beekeeper: Smoking the Hive

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ambience: bee hive

There’s an art and a science to keeping bees- just ask anyone who does it. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Recently, as part of our series on citizen scientists, we visited with beekeeper Vivian Clayton in Walnut Creek, California.

“One of the things I love about beekeeping is how the unanticipated is truly the norm, rather than the exception, and I think as a metaphor for life, it is just ideal.”

“What I’m going to do when I open a hive is, believe it or not, smoke their entrance. The smoke is a warning signal to them that there is danger, and what they do is, the guard bees go into the hive, alert the workers and they begin gorging themselves on honey, because they are anticipating that they will have to leave the hive. Meanwhile, while they are gorging themselves on honey, it gives the beekeeper an opportunity to actually go in and survey the conditions without as much jeopardy of getting stung.”

ambience: sounds of beehive smoker

“So, here we go, and we’re going to very gingerly take out the last frame in each box and put it aside, and then very carefully leaf through, as one would through a book, each frame to see how many eggs there are, and what the laying pattern is of the queen, which tells me, basically, how healthy the queen is at that point in time.”

“Okay, now we’re going to smoke through the queen excluder, because there is a queen… I want her well hidden. From my point of view, the most important thing is to find those eggs. If you see eggs, you know your hive has a queen.”

Our thanks to Vivian Clayton.

We’ll hear more about beekeeping in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Beekeeper: Smoking the Hive

The first step to working with bees is "smoking" them... we'll learn why and how.
Air Date:10/14/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: bee hive

There's an art and a science to keeping bees- just ask anyone who does it. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Recently, as part of our series on citizen scientists, we visited with beekeeper Vivian Clayton in Walnut Creek, California.

"One of the things I love about beekeeping is how the unanticipated is truly the norm, rather than the exception, and I think as a metaphor for life, it is just ideal."

"What I'm going to do when I open a hive is, believe it or not, smoke their entrance. The smoke is a warning signal to them that there is danger, and what they do is, the guard bees go into the hive, alert the workers and they begin gorging themselves on honey, because they are anticipating that they will have to leave the hive. Meanwhile, while they are gorging themselves on honey, it gives the beekeeper an opportunity to actually go in and survey the conditions without as much jeopardy of getting stung."

ambience: sounds of beehive smoker

"So, here we go, and we're going to very gingerly take out the last frame in each box and put it aside, and then very carefully leaf through, as one would through a book, each frame to see how many eggs there are, and what the laying pattern is of the queen, which tells me, basically, how healthy the queen is at that point in time."

"Okay, now we're going to smoke through the queen excluder, because there is a queen... I want her well hidden. From my point of view, the most important thing is to find those eggs. If you see eggs, you know your hive has a queen."

Our thanks to Vivian Clayton.

We'll hear more about beekeeping in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music