Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicken Bee Fight

Umm... Never thought in a million years that this would happen.

I was working in one of our two hives, checking things out.  The bees had built comb all the way to the back of the hive.  I was hoping to add some spacers into the very back bars.  When I went to pull a bar (gently out) I noticed the comb was going the wrong way and it broke off from the bar.  GRRREAT.  I placed it back it's almost September they will reattach it and I will have to address it in the Spring.
I wanted to check on the brood levels and what was going on towards the front... I should have left them alone.

The comb broke off the bar, it didn't seem like an abnormally hot day, but it just broke off.  The bees freaked out and a normally super mellow hive went HOT on me faster than anything I had ever seen before EVER.  They went for me like flies on you know what.  I was ok I had a bee suit on.  But before I knew what was happening the hens were going crazy.  HOLY MOLY.  They were under full attack.

I went for the hose.  On mist, I tried to pacify the bees and get them away from the chickens.  Two minutes I was spraying trying to get some relief from the swarming pissed off bees.  The girls tried to take cover in their eglu coop.  I tried to close the door for them and kept spraying the air, the hive, myself, the girls...  I went to grab the girls out of the eglu to take refuge in the greenhouse but one of the twins was already down barely breathing.  I grabbed three of the girls and put them in the greenhouse, grabbed one hen that was running going crazy and then the next two.  

It was really bad.  

Bees were all over the girl's faces stinging away.  Burrowing into their feathers to sting them on their bodies.  It was AWFUL...  I was so powerless to do anything.  I had on my suit and leather gloves so I, the loving beekeeper, was going after my bees to get them off my chickens.  The bees were no longer my friends at that moment.  They were trying to get through the open windows and cracks in the doors.  I sealed everything up the best I could went to tend to my poor hens.  The one died in my arms immediately.  There were still bees buzzing around inside the greenhouse!!! AAAAAHHHHH!  It was horrible.  Gaga got it at least 20 times in the face.  Franny took a beating too.  I kept checking their bodies and pulling out stingers as quickly as I could.  The girls were not doing well.  Franny and Gaga that took the brunt of the stinging, were shaking and not moving around.  Just sitting there in the soil looking like they were going to fall over any minute.  I tried feeding them some banana to snap them out of it.  Then I forced them to drink some water by putting drops on their beak.  I was so distraught.  I got them hooked up with a heating pad... they were going into shock.  Moved in their water and some seriously wet feed/mash with more banana and I ran to the Internet.  


Backyard chickens had a stream which sent me to a blog and duh,  give the chickens Benedryl.  
Why had I not thought of that!  
Panic sometimes causes the brain to cease functioning at a normal levels. 

I took a capsule and dissolved it into 2 oz of water and with a head lamp, put drops of Benedryl water on their beaks trying to get them to drink it.  Franny at this point is in really bad shape, she can barely hold her head up.  Gaga, is on the heating pad, eyes swollen shut with labored breathing.  I just want to cry.

The girls took maybe 5-7 drops each of the Benedryl water.  I tried more banana and plain water.  No dice.  I went back inside the house.  10 mins later after the Benedryl, Franny seems the tiniest bit better and Gaga is still the same.  More drops of water and I moved Franny onto the heating pad.  Going to check on them in a minute.  The woman from the blog had good luck with her batam rooster so I've got my fingers crossed.  It just took so long to get the stingers out and trying to get the greenhouse sorted, I'm afraid the Benedryl was administered too late.  

I went on reading the BYC forum and they suggested Neosporin with pain reliever for the stings.  Ran to the medicine cabinet and went to it.  The girls fought me on this hard, especially Gaga, she wasn't having it.  It does look as if her shivering has let up though, I swear it looked like she was having small seizures.  Poor thing. 
Franny enjoyed the application of the ointment to her belly, neck and comb, that's where she took it the most.  She looks less like she is on death's door but I will check on them in a bit.  I don't want to get my hopes up and then be devastated tomorrow.

Lucky, Jack and the other twin seem to be ok.  They were eating the sorrel plant and gobbled up the banana no problem.  They were even scratching the newly placed compost in the beds of the greenhouse before it got dark and they went to roost.

Update: Not so good.
Gaga is standing but and is able to open one eye.  Franny is still on the heating pad, but her wings are drooping and she is panting with an open beak.  She seems more alert and is taking water and banana a little better than before but her breathing worries me.  Do I dare try to give her a few more drops of Benedryl?  I'm at a loss.

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