Honey from a euthanised hive: safe for consumption?

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Dornfield

New Bee
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
22
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15
Location
Oxfordshire
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
2
Okay, so I'm not proud of this: I had to euthanise an EXTREMELY aggressive hive last weekend. I could post a separate thread about that, but briefly, the hive was so aggressive that re-queening was simply not an option. I really believe they would have killed me if I'd attempted to re-queen, and anyone else within a kilometre or so. They were regularly stinging neighbours, and any hive inspection multiplied their ire by orders of magnitude. One managed to navigate down my wellington boot, past the leg of my bee suit and sting me on the ankle. Tenacious! So, with the agreement of my mentor, with decades of experience and concluding "I've never seen bees this angry", we wrapped the hive in two builders sacks (they managed to find holes and terrorise us again) and then a very large poly bag (a 'dust extractor' bag from my local timer saw shop) and then taped up the edges so there was next to zero ventilation. Predictably, the bees went completely ape and the who thing sounded like a jet engine for two hours, vibrating and hot to the touch .....then .....silence......
Just to be sure they were gone, I have left the hive for a full week, and opening it this evening, I was confronted with about 50,000 dead bees, and a slightly funky 'fermentation' odour.
So, the question is, as the bees have been dead for a week, is the valedictory honey that I have recovered from the super going to be fit for human consumption? I have absolutely no intention of selling or letting anyone other than me consume it. It has been in contact with a fair number of dead bees for a week, but numbering around a hundred or so, not thousands. The bees are intact, with no overt signs of mould or other decay. But the honey is much darker than the first (and only) previous recovery of spring honey from this hive. I though this might have been due to being stewed, but the he water content is 17.5%, which is similar to my first harvest.

Attached is a photo of what comb looks like when the colony is contained and generating a huge amount of heat as it expires. Other areas of comb are completely melted away and there was very little of the honey actually capped, although it might be that the capping wax had melted away?

I don't trivialise this episode: it was a huge colony of bees, but irretrievable. So, what do you think? What are the risks of the honey being tainted with something nasty?
 

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Okay, so I'm not proud of this: I had to euthanise an EXTREMELY aggressive hive last weekend. I could post a separate thread about that, but briefly, the hive was so aggressive that re-queening was simply not an option. I really believe they would have killed me if I'd attempted to re-queen, and anyone else within a kilometre or so. They were regularly stinging neighbours, and any hive inspection multiplied their ire by orders of magnitude. One managed to navigate down my wellington boot, past the leg of my bee suit and sting me on the ankle. Tenacious! So, with the agreement of my mentor, with decades of experience and concluding "I've never seen bees this angry", we wrapped the hive in two builders sacks (they managed to find holes and terrorise us again) and then a very large poly bag (a 'dust extractor' bag from my local timer saw shop) and then taped up the edges so there was next to zero ventilation. Predictably, the bees went completely ape and the who thing sounded like a jet engine for two hours, vibrating and hot to the touch .....then .....silence......
Just to be sure they were gone, I have left the hive for a full week, and opening it this evening, I was confronted with about 50,000 dead bees, and a slightly funky 'fermentation' odour.
So, the question is, as the bees have been dead for a week, is the valedictory honey that I have recovered from the super going to be fit for human consumption? I have absolutely no intention of selling or letting anyone other than me consume it. It has been in contact with a fair number of dead bees for a week, but numbering around a hundred or so, not thousands. The bees are intact, with no overt signs of mould or other decay. But the honey is much darker than the first (and only) previous recovery of spring honey from this hive. I though this might have been due to being stewed, but the he water content is 17.5%, which is similar to my first harvest.

Attached is a photo of what comb looks like when the colony is contained and generating a huge amount of heat as it expires. Other areas of comb are completely melted away and there was very little of the honey actually capped, although it might be that the capping wax had melted away?

I don't trivialise this episode: it was a huge colony of bees, but irretrievable. So, what do you think? What are the risks of the honey being tainted with something nasty?

I’m speechless at how you killed these bees
 
Yup. Keeping the bees contained was really my priority. Opening the hive was simply not possible, so soapy water and other instant solutions were really not practical. As I said, it was not done lightly, but rather with real concern for the safety of others.
I'd prefer this post is taken down if it is only going to attract criticism.
 
Well, I'm afraid you are going to get the rough end of this forum - it was a pretty awful way to kill a colony of bees. Personally, I would have sooner sacrificed the honey and comb and tipped a cupful of petrol in through the hole in the crownboard - dead in minutes not two hours.

I can see the need to despatch them but if your mentor suggested heat and suffocation as a means of euthanasia ... unbelievable. Sorry, I can't find a lot of sympathy ... eat the honey.
 
Yup. Keeping the bees contained was really my priority. Opening the hive was simply not possible, so soapy water and other instant solutions were really not practical. As I said, it was not done lightly, but rather with real concern for the safety of others.
I'd prefer this post is taken down if it is only going to attract criticism.
It's not criticism it's cruelty. I've never heard of anything like that before, awful!!!
 
As a parting communication, my mentor was not involved in the bag thing: that was me. I had not heard of petrol before and the double bagging (builders sacks) was to try to contaim them and transport them away from the garden in my trailer and think again. But they were escaping from the builders sacks and continuing to attack in very large numbers.
 
As a parting communication,
Well you have been a member of the forum for two years. It is an extensive source of the wisdom of its members.There are countless threads on aggressive bees. Why on earth did you not seek advice here?
According to you these bees have been mean for over a year.
https://beekeepingforum.co.uk/threads/clothing-mesh-skullcap.50195/#post-764508
I hope to God you really think hard about keeping bees again and uncharitable as it sounds if you eat that honey I sincerely hope you recall those two hours with every mouthful
 
As the honey is for your own consumption I’d give it a go, you’ll soon know if anything is amiss but doubt there’s anything wrong with it - I wouldn’t be selling the stuff though.
As for your beekeeping skills - they do need a little refining to say the least! If you’re keeping bees in the back garden you need to be a pretty skilled keeper so would suggest you go back to the drawing board with this venture. You certainly need a new mentor if they're unable to guide you through dealing with things such as this.
 
To try to get something positive from this thread - has anyone ever used CO2 from a cylinder to anaesthetise bees to requeen an agressive hive or to euthanase?
CO2 use for euthanising bees quickly has been discussed in the past and there are devices available to anaesthetise a sample of bees (200 - 300) for varroa measurement available. Not sure anyone has actively tried to anaesthetise a whole hive. Personally I think the balance between this and complete hive death would be difficult to control
 
I read & learn a lot here. A fantastic forum. The guys are very good.
Erichalfbee said it best.
"Why on earth did you not seek advice here?"

You did not have to rush into instant action!

As for your mentor, please do not attempt to absolve him. Why did they not "mentor" you at this point? Better still take charge.

Horrible.
 
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Okay, I'll try to explain one last time: enclosing the bees was an emergency response, in preparation for obtaining CO2: I was genuinely not anticipating they would expire without any further intervention before I could arrange that.
Bees in garden? My garden is large, and when the apiary was established, backed onto fields. Over the past year, some new houses have been built where previously there were no houses.
As for criticism of mentor, that is really not fair: over the course of the past two years the pandemic has severely limited the ability of many older folk to mix, and so I have had less 'education' than I'd have liked. But the mistake was all mine.
In general terms, I regret posting this here: the responses are as upsetting as the event. IMHO, some actually border on cyber bullying when you don't know the mental state of the person on the receiving end. The written word is potentially very damaging.
So I'm done trying to justify myself: from the outset I said that I found this pretty awful. If there is experience here that can improve the bees' lot, then I'd be grateful of that, but at the moment I'm dissuaded from further posting, for fear that the response is ridicule and personal attack.
 
So I'm done trying to justify myself:

It appears not

Your original post made no mention whatsoever of CO2, and you clearly taped them up with the intention of suffocating them. You are now trying to latch onto other people's CO2 idea and claim it was what you were intending all along. Why would you wait 2 hours before applying CO2, if that is what your plan was. Why would you bag them up before the CO2 arrived? Stop making stuff up. You bagged them up so they would suffocate / overheat and die. At least be decent enough to not try and wriggle out of that now.
 
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