Dear Chicken Lady, Are my guinea hens going to be okay? They’ve been trying to eat the bees and I am afraid they will get stung and die. Plus I’m terrified of bees so please tell me how to keep them away. Sincerely, Why Aren’t My Chickens as Afraid of Bees As I Am?
Dear Bee Afraid, You know, we went to see the movie “Thor” (which was not too bad) at a theater over in the Mall area and the place was swarming with young men sporting Justin Bieber haircuts, something you would almost never see around here at Tractor Supply Co. or Rural King. Famous for his hair, Justin Bieber is a young heartthrob who also sings for the youth of America. Boys are flaunting his coiffure, the bee’s knees of hair splendor.
Whether you have been Bieberized or not, this does have to do with bees. You can remember the difference between wasps and bees because it is the bee’s knees which are hairy (just like Justin) that collect all that pollen which has been said to be the food that is closest to perfect, that contains every nutrient necessary to life and is about as pure as you can get. So if you have flowers around your chooks (Aussie slang for chickens) or dookas (Aussies’ name for poultry), you will attract bees which if your bird is able to catch and ingest could indeed kill it although its chances of dying from that about as likely as dying from a cackle of hyenas catching it for dinner.
The easy answer to keeping bees away is to forget about flower gardens and their ilk, spread fresh chicken manure on anything remotely resembling a plant with a blossom (if the manure doesn’t kill the plant, it’s a weed) and you will avoid most bees. Better yet raise lots and lots of ducks, then let them loose in the yard and most anything green will be trampled. That will not help you to avoid the wasps however. They may visit a flower for pollen or nectar for food, but will also be busy hunting other bugs so they can drink bug blood for use in feeding their young when they are not taking sips from your Pepsi. Where there are chickens, there are chicken droppings, and where there are droppings there are bugs of all sorts. Paper wasps will be almost as pervasive as mouse carcasses by the end of summer, building nests in every possible hidden nook or cranny where you might place your hand and end up getting stung.
Some birds, such as starlings, are natural predators of bees and wasps, as are dragonflies. Even mice enjoy a tender larvae at times. If your chicken does manage to catch a stinging insect, odds are the protein in it will enhance i’s daily cuisine and not harm it. So relax and let the flowers grow. You can’t beat watching a guinea hen jump at overhead bees buzzing by for a pleasant pastime while taking a break from chores. Be sure not to smell sweet or sugary which, if you have been working as hard as you should have around those chickens, should not be a major problem. It used to be thought that bees were attracted by colors but now scientists think they are attracted to the iridescence of the blooms so again, if you have been working hard your natural iridescence will be well coated with mud or dust, eliminating that attraction.
By the way, all Marvel movies have more after all the credits have run so if you see Thor and say “aha, there will be another one since the ending on this one is left open,” remember to wait out the credits to see a clip teasing you with what’s next. You see, going to the movies is just like chicken farming. You think you’ve seen it all, and lo and behold there will be a surprise waiting for you. Our most recent surprise was Jake telling us how the companies he interviewed with while job hunting were happy to hear he grew up on a farm around animals and heavy machinery, not something you would expect to be a plus for a job as a microbiologist who spends his day dealing with critters so small you can’t see them with the naked eye. Sincerely, Chicken Lady