BUGS! Be they bees or beetles, I've always had a fear of bugs. So, being engulfed in a swarm of bees recently sent me running. Until I met the beekeeper who retrieved them from a tree in my back yard:
For years now, we've been hearing about the shortage of wild honeybees. The crisis is ongoing, but it sure didn't seem so in my back yard a couple of days ago:
Outside picnicking with my son, I noticed a hum in the air. I scooped him up and headed inside, where a turn back to the yard revealed hundreds and hundreds of bees swarming the air. Eventually, they came to rest in a giant clump on a branch right over where we had been sitting. They were beginning to form a hive.
Calling the local extension office, I located a beekeeper who was interested in coming over to try to retrieve the bees. Here's how it went down:
A box "hive" was raised up to sit directly under the bees' own.natural beginnings of a hive. Its wax-covered screens were meant to make the new hive more alluring. The bees were transferred to this new home rather unceremoniously by shaking the tree limb on which they'd gathered. Down they "poured" into the box hive. It really did look like they were pouring. Because they had been in the tree for almost 24 hours, they were territorial and might sting, so the beekeeper wore all of his protective garb for the switch. After about an hour of giving them a chance to settle. most of the bees remained in their new home. The few who were left behind dispersed within the day. It turns out that that initially "frightening" swarm over our picnic was actually a treasure of liquid gold: the beekeeper promised to keep us flush with honey in the coming months!
On his way out of our yard, the beekeeper chided over his shoulder, "You should set up a couple of hives in your yard!". Now, we're seriously considering it. Do any readers have experience with beekeeping? Let's hear about it in the comments below!
Related: Getting the Hive Ready for the Bees!
(Images: Regina Yunghans)