Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Sad Little Tale of Hope

Mirek's Beautiful Bee (Miroslav Fišmeister)
It's begun. The great bee removal. We have bees in one wall of our house, which no experienced beekeeper will touch. Believe me, we've talked to many. We've called the Clemson (University) Extension Center, pest control services, and online bee removal sites. No one is interested enough to actually participate. Until yesterday.
A friend of a friend turned up, a novice beekeeper. He has one hive and an empty house ready for more. Bee book in hand, he came up with a plan. A kind man, he worries about the ones that won't survive this transfer. But his enthusiasm is contagious.
His first act was to order a new queen. I  believe this is going to work. Just a couple of days ago, my Chinese fortune said I would soon be a host to royalty. Is that an omen or what?
Helen. That's what I'm calling her. She's going to be beautiful and launch a thousand . . . well, flights. Or maybe the truck that will eventually carry her and her entourage could be considered a ship. Anyway, Helen should arrive this morning.
The plan involves a one-way valve that will let the workers leave the existing wall hive but not return. Because of the warm days, cool nights, and flowers, our new best friend is convinced the workers will return laden with pollen and have no place to deliver it. Hence Helen, safely ensconced in a little cage, right there, buzzing her siren song. The cage is necessary for a while so the now homeless bees can't attack the stranger in their midst but will have time to get acquainted and gradually shift their affections (and pollen). This will take several days.
Then, when new love is finally realized and nearly all the bees have fallen for Helen, our friendly beekeeper will don his white suit and seal off the old nest entirely. The new colony will begin its epic journey to the promised land—via truck. We hope. We're counting on it. We need it.
Sadly, the old queen and her newest babies, entombed in their nest, will gradually pass into another world. When winter returns, the interior wall will have to come down so the honey and comb can be removed. That will be another major project.
Meanwhile, the queen is dead. Long live the Queen!


Polly said...

Sounds like you have the Pied Piper of Taylors, only it's bees instead of...well, you know. Bee glad. Bee very, very glad.

Ellis Vidler said...

I'm hopeful that they'll fall madly in love with Helen--wither thou goest and all that.
Based on the super-race we've created though, the old queen and her progeny will probably live on in spite of our best efforts. All I can say is she's led a charmed life so far.

laura thomas said...

Bow to the new Queen. May her royalness dazzle the drones:)

Una Tiers said...

Save the honey!

Crack You Whip said...

This is an amazing bee story. I never knew that bees could be so complicated! Honey, nutella and peanut butter...mmmmm.

Ellis Vidler said...

Laura, we have high hopes. It's spring and love is in the air! I'll have a follow-up next Saturday.

CTW, I never knew how complicated they were either. But they're very good-natured bees, not at all aggressive. If they all go, it will be sad.

Una, I can't imagine what we'll find when we eventually take the wall down. But I'll try and send you a jar of honey. :-)

Marian Allen said...

We kept bees for a couple of years, but they got all kinds of problems and we lost them. Bees are, indeed, VERY complicated! Your friend of a friend is very wise to collect feral bees. They've already proven themselves to be immune or resistant to the thousand natural shocks that bee is heir to.

My question is: if these bees are good-natured, why do you want to get rid of them? Just cut an access for yourself and harvest some honey! lol

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Ellis Vidler said...

I wouldn't much mind if they stayed, but our neighbors on that side think they sting them and their dog. I suspect it's yellow jackets or sweat bees, but I don't really know. And I don't think my husband would go for a hole in the wall. :-) So I hope they move to the new hive and a safe home where they're truly welcome.
Meanwhile, they're building into a huge ball outside the valve. We keep watching.

DonnaGalanti said...

What a wonderful tale! And that you know a novice beekeeper in itself. Save the bees, yes indeed.I like bees. Big bumblebees are just friendly clods. Wa sps and yellow jackets? Now thatsanother story.