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It was like back in middle school science class, when we'd take our rubber surgical gloves and exhale deeply into them, puffing them up all comical-like. That's what my buddy's hand looked like the day after he took two knuckle stings during a bee removal job. I couldn't laugh too hard, though, because at the time I had a welt on my hindquarters and a stiff, swollen ankle from stings I'd received.

"Oh well," we commiserated. "Free apitherapy."

Surprise injections of bee venom (which does have healing properties) are common during feral, or wild, colony removals. The objective is to isolate and catch the queen — among tens of thousands of worker bees — and to carefully disassemble the wild comb for transfer into a manageable hive box.

Colonies may form under decks, or inside columns, walls, attics, eaves ... pretty much anywhere with a crack into a nice dark spot. The removal tool of choice: a Shop-Vac hooked up to a screened, five-gallon bucket.

This and much more did I learn during my first season as a beekeeper (here). We'll look at a couple of other new frontiers in urbanized food cultivation as well as a resourceful, road-tested cooking method in this week's issue. Don't fret — it won't sting a bit.


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