Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What is that Smell???

I am guilty of wearing my footwear without socks.  It makes my shoes and my feet smell.  I'm also guilty of grabbing the first pair of socks I can find and often they're on the floor--yesterday's socks.

So wearing the same socks on day two I guess you can imagine how embarrassed I was when I went to a meeting at a friend's house where we were expected to remove our shoes.  Yikes!  I do have painful feet and don't go without footwear so I convinced her to let me keep them on.  It wouldn't be good to have people passing out all over the place.

By now you're wondering what my stinky feet have to do with bees.  Well, a lot actually.  Let me explain.

This summer was quite hot with many very humid days (London, Ontario is in the Great Lakes area which bring moist air).  Many days were 40 degrees Celcius and our city even set up cooling shelters for citizens.

The bees of course were busy ventilating and keeping cool.  As mid August came I noticed a smell in the bee yard.  As the month progressed and the warm weather continued the smell grew stronger and stronger.

And it smelled just like my feet after wearing socks for two days.

I was removing honey supers and I remember thinking, these hives need to have their lids removed to air them out, just like my feet.

Yes I did wonder what the smell was.  I knew it was a bacteria smell.  Was it because the hives needed airing?  My hives have keyhole entrances at the top and the bottom entrances were fully open.  Was it something really bad like a disease?  Was this AFB (American Foulbrood)?  I had read that it had a bad smell too.

I realized I needed to ask an experienced beekeeper what AFB smelled like.

Recently while meeting with some fellow beekeepers I was busy talking but two words got my attention and my ears perked right up:  Stinky Socks.

Uh oh.  Could he smell my feet?  I asked him to repeat what he'd said.  "The bee yard smells like stinky socks this time of year," he said.  "It's the Goldenrod."

I had the AHA moment then and my mind flashed back to the Introductory Beekeepers' Course.  I had heard this before but had forgotten.  The instructors mentioned how the fall goldenrod honey tasted fabulous but you had to suffer the smell of it.

I was relieved.  I don't know what made me more happy, knowing they weren't commenting on my feet or that my yard didn't have AFB.
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