Please download the Guild Liability Waiver form before visiting any Guild apiary. This is an editable form so you can enter your information and sign it digitally if you don’t have a printer. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get back to you if we have questions.
Beekeeping has certain risks that you should be prepared for in advance.
Do not visit any apiary if you know that you are allergic to bee stings.
Risks Involved. I understand that there are certain risks involved in working with bees, as described below, and with participating in the Beekeeping activities. I understand that I am advised to consult with a health care provider of my own choosing (and cost) before participating in any beekeeping activity.
(1) Bee stings: European honey bees are generally are not aggressive toward people, but are defensive of their hive (family and
food stores). However, the degree of defensiveness of an individual colony can vary greatly from day-to-day and even within the same day, depending on various factors.
Such factors include, but are not limited to, whether it is sunny or overcast, the air temperature, the degree of wind, the amount of time the hive is open for inspection, odors of the human body, breath, color and texture of clothing, the degree of sharp, quick movement around the hive, accidental killing or crushing of bees during hive inspection, whether the colony has a functioning queen, whether the colony is being harassed by skunks, raccoons or opossums at night, being invaded by ants or being robbed by other honey bee colonies or wasps, and other factors unique to a honey bee colony at the time of inspection that currently are not known to or ascertainable by the beekeepers.
At some point or another, a person working around bees will be stung as a result of Beekeeping activities. Stings always hurt and it is rare that a person will not experience some reaction to a bee sting. Reactions to honey bee stings vary from person to person, and can vary by sting and over time.
Most people only have a localized reaction, including one or more of the following: the skin swells and becomes red, hot and painful, and itching also may occur. The severity and duration of such localized allergic reactions vary among individuals and stings, and over time. These reactions may disappear over a few hours or days, but can persist for a week or longer.
Some people have a systemic allergic reaction which is far more serious than a localized allergic reaction. A systemic allergic reaction can be evidenced by emergence of itchy bumps (hives), redness and/or swelling of the skin at points distant from the site of the sting(s). A systemic allergic reaction also may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness. When the most serious of these reactions occur – anaphylaxis – the person experiences one or more of the following: wheezing, hoarseness, swelling of the tongue, fainting, difficulty breathing followed by a drop in blood pressure that can lead to shock and death. These types of reactions usually occur within minutes of the sting, but can be delayed for up to 24 or more hours after the sting(s).
Mitigation & Prevention: You must wear beekeeping suits and gloves and any other protective equipment as provided or approved by PBG to help minimize the potential risks of bee stings. Ensure the zippers of the suit are completely zipped and Velcro flaps secured. Do not remove the bee veil or open the bee suit until you are far away from the site of the bee hives. Bees can sting through fabric. It is recommended that you wear a light layer of clothing (long sleeve shirt, long pants) for an extra layer of protection under the bee suit. If you have boots, or any kind of high-top shoes or sneakers, wear them. If you don’t have them but you have gaiters, bring them. The key is to prevent bees from crawling up over the top of your shoes and getting caught/crushed between your socks and shoes and stinging you. Bees can sting through gloves. Move carefully and try to avoid crushing and pinching bees with and against your hands/fingers. If you feel scared, or are being attacked, walk away from the hives. If possible, walk around bushes and trees and through their branches to disorganize the bees following you while you continue to leave the area.
(2) Lifting and moving hive components: Inspecting bee hives involves lifting, moving and stacking hive boxes inhabited by bees and reassembling the boxes of the hive. Hive boxes can be heavy, up toward 75 lbs. per each box depending on the size of the box and amount of pollen and honey stored by the bees. Proper body mechanics and lifting techniques are important to help prevent strains and sprains to the back, knees, ankles, shoulders, arms and hands. Even handling lighter items such as hive covers can results in a sprain if the beekeeper is not using proper lifting, carrying or body mechanic techniques. Dropping or lowering heavy hive components too quickly can result in bruising, crushing and broken bones.
Mitigation & Prevention: You should review (over the Internet or otherwise) and practice, proper lifting techniques particularly if you do not regularly lift bulky and heavy objects. It also is advised that, within the one (1) hour immediately before hands-on beekeeping activity, you do at least 15 minutes of stretching to help minimize potential sprains and strains. You will be responsible for your own lifting techniques and body mechanics. You should decline to do any lifting or moving of hive components if you are unsure you can safely handle the weight or use proper lifting techniques or body mechanics.
(3) Burns: Beekeepers use smokers to calm bees. Smokers are made of metal. Inside the smoker cylinder the beekeeper starts a fire and keeps it going to produce a cool smoke for the duration of the hive inspection. Use of a smoker involves starting and refreshing a fire in the smoker cylinder. Burns can result directly from contact with the fire or from contact with the exterior surface of the smoker which becomes hot.
Mitigation & Prevention: Do not put your hand or fingers into the smoker cylinder when attempting to start or refresh a fire. Do not touch the smoker surface. Hold and use the smoker via hand contact with the bellows only.
(4) Cuts/Contusions/Abrasions: Beekeepers use metal hive tools to pry apart boxes from one another, and frames from each other and from hive boxes. Hive tools are sharp, they can slip and cause cuts, contusions and abrasions. Their use also can result in pinching.
Mitigation & Prevention: Hold and use the hive tool as low down on the tool as you can, as close as possible to the part of the tool you are using for leverage. Brace yourself against the hive or other frames. These techniques will give you more control and reduce the likelihood of cutting yourself.
(5) Falling and/or tripping at the site of the hive(s): The apiary site may be uneven and irregular. Twisted and sprained ankles may occur, and other injuries resulting from tripping and/or falling in and around, to and from, the apiary.
Mitigation & Prevention: Pay attention, and watch where you will be walking before you walk there.