August 29, 2010

Nesting Bees

Saturday morning my cell phone rang. That is strange because we don't get cell reception at our house, unless you lean far off the back deck, stretching the phone towards the southern sky. When it rang, I didn't even make an effort to answer. But the voice mail alert went off, so I headed to the deck to retrieve the message.

It was my neighbor - not Eric or Lola, the neighbors to the north who we have only met when our cow, Gladys, got out and proceeded to eat their garden. Sherry's message went something like this "Your other neighbors told us you got bees and I was wondering if they are still in their nest because we have bees coming and going from our attic. Please give me a call back [phone number]." I thought, crap, did the hive swarm?!

I ran down in my pajamas and flip flops. It was a cool morning, so no bees were flying. I carefully (because I hadn't put on any protective wear) opened the top lid. I was met with a nice, soft buzzing and lots of bees happily going about their business. Whew - no swarm!!! I put the lid back down and headed up to call Sherry back (on my land line so I didn't have to hang off the deck).

Sherry said "About two weeks after you got your bees, I noticed little honey bees going in and out off the attic." (Mind you, we got our bees in May, so that means she's had bees in her attic for 3 months.) "So I thought maybe your bees were moving their nest." In the nicest way possible I said "They don't really do it that way. See, when part of the hive decides to move, they swarm out. We're talking 10,000 bees in one large bunch. They generally move to a tree and hang out there while scouts go find a new home. Then them all move in." Sherry said "Oh, cuz this started just after you got your bees." (Like it's my fault that honey bees look up residence in her attic.) "Could you come get them?"

"Well, I would but I don't have anything to put them in. If I had a second hive, I would love to get the bees. But I don't. You should call Rhul (the store that we bought our bees from) and ask them if there are bee keepers in Southwest Washington that would come get the bees. I'm sure there are many that would be thrilled to come help you out." What I should have done, but didn't think of it, was to direct her to the Clark County Bee Keepers Association. I bet they could have sent someone out in 10 minutes.

I haven't heard back from her, so I assume she got the situation taken care of. Our bees are doing great. We added a second super, which they have drawn out. We are thinking of adding a third shallow super to the top and see if we can get any honey for us this fall. Yum!!

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