Adventures in Beekeeping (or not)

Who would think that bees could be so interesting?   We have had quite an experience over the past few weeks with bees at the inn.  After several bees had found their way into a guest room, and my attempts at eradicating the problem were unsuccessful, I called in the professionals.

The exterminator arrived, took one look at the area where the bees were congregating, and told they were honey bees, and he didn’t want to kill them.  There is a growing shortage of honey bees because of some mites that are killing them off.  So, he suggested we call Asbury Woods, and ask for their “bee guy”.  Several calls later, I was able to hook up with Paul, and we set up a time for him to come.

About a week after I had originally found the bees, we noticed a swarm of bees about 2 feet long and 9 inches wide on the tree at the sidewalk in front of the building.  The swarm remained there for about 2 days, then disappeared as strangely as it came..more about that later. Swarm of bees in tree.

He immediately identified the bees as Russian Honey Bees, which he claims to be “moderately aggressive.”  They were housed in the ceiling of a side porch on the far side of one of our buildings.  And when he opened up the ceiling, oh my!Beekeeper removing combs

There were about 10 large honeycombs of varying colors of light and dark, dripping with honey and full of bees.  He cut them all out, and took them with him, to help with the new hive.  The bees were buzzing all around him quite upset, as you can imagine.  He said later that the hive was probably about three years old.Bees surrounding beekeeper

He had with him a “bee vacuum”, so as he saw bees, he vacuumed them off the combs, the wall, the ceiling, etc.  They were then in a box that he would take back to his hives.  So, he waited until it got dark (for all the field bees to return to the hive) and tried to get all the bees.  I was left with some pieces of comb, a hole in the porch ceiling, and a lot of stickiness.  Within two days, there were only a few bees buzzing around the former site.  Hopefully they are happy somewhere else!

Small piece of honeycomb.What Paul told me was that the swarm we saw earlier probably came from that hive!  The hive became overcrowded, and the bees created a new queen.  They set flight with about half of the bees, and were there in the tree while scout bees searched for a new hive locations.  As soon as 80% of the scouts agreed on a new location, they were off!

Really interesting stuff!   So we are rid of the bees, and they were saved to pollinate elsewhere!

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