A Skunk In The Beehives?

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I could not escape bees while in North Dakota--not that I really want to. We don't want to overly inspect the hives, so they can get down to comb construction and honey production. We've been giving our girls space and room to grow and I've missed them.

We saw beehives all over in North Dakota, we passed several. I'm not sure all were permanent residents. Teageeare, a regular reader, attended the Potholes and Prairie Festival and told me about a flatbed truck she saw covered in beehives resting in town. She wanted to get closer and inspect it, but her husband sensibly kept her away--sounds like a woman after my own heart.

Also, while out on the prairie, I got a call from Mr. Neil about our girls. So far, all of us have been able to meander very close to the hives without our bee suits when not inspecting the hives and the girls go about their business. Mr. Neil and Cabal (the new dog) have been able to run through and I've been watching indigo buntings and digiscoping bobolinks without any trouble. That's now all over.

Mr. Neil and Cabal were taking their normal jaunt around the property and as they approached the hives, the workers started bumping into them. They were still very far away, but the girls were warning they were about to sting. Mr. Neil looked down and found one bee trying to sting his shirt--the stinger had not penetrated skin, but she was releasing warning pheromone and several bees were coming to her spot to join in the attack. He flicked her off and both very sensibly fled the area.

I have a suspicion that a skunk has been attacking our hives (and not just because of Cabal getting sprayed). The instructors in our beekeeping class warned that we would know without a doubt that a skunk had visited because of the change in personality of our hives. One day, our girls would be friendly and docile, but the next day they would be irritable and short tempered. Skunks come to the hive at night and slap the entrance around irritating the workers. The bees come out to attack the intruder, which is what the skunk wants--it wants to eat the bees and the stings don't seem to bother them. So, now all of our girls are irritated and on the defensive. And we are staying well away from the hives unless in full bee suit armor.

I'm going to get some carpet tacking and put that outside the hive (hopefully on Thursday), it's supposed to keep the skunk away--also if anyone has any skunk prevention tips, I sure would appreciate any advice.