For a beginning beekeeper, opening a hive for the first few times can be somewhat overwhelming – and downright scary! There are all those bees in there. They have stingers. What if they get angry??? Then there is all of the unfamiliar gear: a veil or suit, big gloves, and a new hive tool. It can all be a bit overwhelming and cause a beginning beekeeper to feel quite anxious.
This nervousness almost certainly makes matters worse. While it is hard to say for certain whether bees can intrinsically sense this unease, they most certainly do sense unsteady and jerky movements. Bees do not like these kinds of rapid or rushed actions. They especially do not like any kind of rough treatment. For an experienced beekeeper, swatting at bees, darting about, dropping things, and banging things are all completely out of the question.
Beekeepers need to be relaxed and calm around their bees. If you are nervous as a beginner, you need do your best to pretend that you are calm. (“Fake it until you make it!”). Bees are sensitive creatures. If you move carefully and calmly, treating them with peace and respect, they will return the favor. One of the joys of keeping bees is the opportunity to get in touch with and to give respect to the magnificent sense of peace and purpose that is in the heart of every beehive.
When things are going right, and you are moving comfortably in a relaxed manner around the hive, the bees will appear to welcome you as an honorary member of their world. That’s when you know you have entered the The Zen of Beekeeping.