I spent the day in wine country today doing a trap out at Cristom winery. After that I figured I should check on my 9 warre hives at the other wineries since I hadn’t seen them for a few weeks. The first 6 went swimmingly and I was making good time.
Then I got to Lachini vineyard. These bees are notoriously hot, but I figured it’s helpful due to the rural, wild space in which they reside, as their ferocity should thwart skunks and other would-be intruders.
I checked the bottom boxes for comb building — hive 2 was full up and ready for a third box. Hive three was exceedingly violent, and as soon as I tilted the top box up to check inside I received a face-full of bees and quickly closed it up and walked back to the car speedily.
As I normally do after checking on my hives, I took off my suit and began e-mailing my hive update e-mail address with the status of each hive. Then out of nowhere I was bombarded by 5-10 angry bees. In my hair, on my face, buzzing angrily. I was caught off guard fumbling with my phone and began moving away. Their assault continued and I soon I began running away, swatting furiously attempting to get them out of my hair.
At 50 yards they were unrelenting — the assault continued. At this point I was sprinting…thump! I tripped in a hole and my glasses went one direction and my phone the other. With bees in my hair I was able to find my glasses, but had no time for my phone.
100 yards and still going. The bees wouldn’t cease. I’m panting, spluttering and somewhat hobbling away, hoping that the enraged guards would give up the chase and return to their abode. I trip again. At this point I’m attempting to crush the bees in my hair to no avail.
At around 200 yards their attack finally ceased and I clutched my knees breathing heavily. I’m phoneless, exhausted, in the middle-of-nowhere and in the distance I can see at least 10 bees patrolling in massive, sweeping circles at least 100 yards wide. My water and suit were in the truck right next to the hives, and my phone is in foot-high grass somewhere. I began laughing at what any onlookers must have thought watching me swatting, falling and swearing in the field.
Slowly I began to creep back toward the truck, hoping the bee patrol wouldn’t notice me. 50 yards in and they were on me again. There I was again swatting and galloping away with a parched mouth. A few more attempts to get back to the truck and finally I decided to bolt for it, get in the driver seat and come to my senses. I ran, bees following closely behind, hitting my head a few times. I opened the door, jumped in and to my frustration the window was open. I fumbled for my keys, turned on the truck and got the window up, somehow avoiding any bees.
At that point I moved the truck far from the bees, suited up and got out and spent 20 minutes searching for and finally procuring my phone.
Needless to say I will be crushing all three of the queens at Lachini and replacing them in the near future. In addition, at any site with hot bees I plan to park farther away and only remove my suit once I’m safely in the car!