URCSF – Rakai – Uganda
When choosing between two reactions on how to deal with bees, one based on years of experience telling you to stay still and the other based on people who run beehives on a daily basis tell you to move away quickly, next time I am going with my experience.
Another volunteer and I were asked to observe the harvesting of the honey this week from a few of the hives at the Uganda Farm Project I am now at. They actually put it off two days for our arrival. I was ecstatic. Seeing this stuff on TV and movies I thought I would get some great photos and video. I have always seen harvesting done dayside in movies, but apparently the bees are calmer at night and that is when they harvest. This does not make for great photos. Second problem was they were short on protective gear, so we were told we would have to observe from outside the fence perimeter. This makes for even worse photos.
As night and darkness fell quickly upon us and as it become apparent they were only harvesting hives far into the center of the farm, I knew the chance of seeing anything was slim and getting photos was out. A glimmer of hope came when we saw Mami, who runs the homestay house, inside the fence without protective gear. We decided that meant it wwas safe to venture inside the fenced off perimeter and within photographing (and stinging) distance of the hives.
I ended up getting maybe five seconds of usable video and no photos before we were told to move away quickly and I started hearing the buzzing close to me getting louder and louder. And, then I was running, having smoke sprayed after me, and bees following me.
What I learned: Maybe having lights on our heads were not the best idea if we did not want to attract bees. Maybe I should have kept more calm while “quickly” walking away even if I did have a guy with smoke following me every step of the way to “calm” the bees. Maybe I should have worn tighter clothing and my hair tied back so bees did not get stuck in my shirt and hair. No amount of smoke can calm a bee when it is stuck somewhere or on someone. Maybe instead of having myself doused in smoke to calm the bees, I should have just calmed myself down.
That night they harvested 3 hives and about 10 liters of honey. They hope to get more as they learn more on how and when to harvest. All they need now are jars and labels to start selling and they think they can make almost $500 a month to support the project and the families that do the harvesting.