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.


Jim said...

Barbara, we've had a sour odor from our hives as well, which we also noted last year at the same time. We had been attributing it to the wax moths, which have been invading the lower part of my homemade screened bottom board, which has a pull-out tray in the back. Maybe, though, it really is the goldenrod instead, since I've really kept after the moths the past week but the odor still remains. Thanks for the info!

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Thanks for your comment Jim. My yard smelled last year too but this year it really stinks! I was there tonight and putting my nose down at the entrances I could really smell it. I too have had moths on a couple hives underneath my sticky board. I squished them all.

Tim E said...

Yes, I have the exact same smell in my hives as well. An eldarly man in my church had informed me today that it was the golderod honey.

He said AFB smelt like skunk, only worse. I've also heard it smells a lot like rotting fish.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Tim E: Thanks for the time on the AFB smell. I had heard it was an awful smell so that makes sense. I hope I never experience it :)

Anonymous said...

O Lord, what a relief to read this information. I have been so worried about the odor from my 2 hives the last 10 days. I decided to check this out online and found your comments. Thank you, thank you.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Anonymous: You are welcome! I too had concern and went to the web and my fellow beekeepers. Glad this info could set you at ease.

john randazzo said...

We were smelling a weird aroma coming from our 2 hives on our rooftop. My wife said it was the sewer vent pipes. We went up and opened the hives and were so worried about the smell; now confirmed to be from our girls ! We were so worried it was Foul brood ! We were so Happy to find this blog and get the answer from you folks. We are first year bee keepers ; and would be sad if our girls were ill :-( . Thanks to you all for the good news ! GOLDEN ROD ....

Barbara Lindberg said...

John, you are most welcome. I know exactly how it feels to smell that when you're a first year beekeeper. That's why I posted that on my blog. Spread to word to other newbees that you meet :)

Begui said...

My wife decided to put Honey into my tea... I admired the wonderful it taste however after smelling it, I noticed the "Stinky Socks" smell.. Glad I ran into this article, saved me a cup of tea..