ANZ's Farms

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's March

The idea of catching up the months that have passed since I last blogged paralyzed my brain -- a season of canning; winter gardening; breeding, pregnancy and kidding; baby goats (pictured here is Breanna with Oreo, one of our retained doelings); life in general on the homestead, etc. The daunting task kept me from clicking the link labeled MY BLOG. And then I said to myself (they say it's not crazy to talk to yourself until you begin to answer back): Heck, don't catch up. Just begin again. That was very freeing. So here goes ...

It's March. Honey bee swarm month. We got a call from a friend of a friend who heard humming in her dining room ceiling. Paired with the large number of honey bees zooming in and out of the stone facade of her house next to the front door, she knew she had a problem. Given that her husband is deathly allergic to bee stings, she cried, "Death to the bees" and called the exterminator. You can imagine her distress when the exterminator informed her that honey bees are an endangered species protected by law from extermination.

Hence the phone call to us. Lucky for her, Scott is also a handyman by trade, accustomed to construction and home repair. Not only could he handle the bees, but he would tear out the ceiling in the least destructive manner possible.
After visiting her home, assessing the situation and consulting with a mentor Mr. Buzz (Ben Crawley -- a great guy if you need honey bee help), he gathered the supplies we would need. Waiting until evening when the bees would have come in for the night, we went to work. First, we sealed off the room with plastic so the bees would not get into the other part of the house and near her allergic husband.

Then, once the house and supplies were prepared, it was time to suit up. One tip Mr. Buzz gave that was invaluable is that bees can't see red light. Scott bought a headlamp from Lowe's that he wore so he could see the bees and they couldn't see him in the dark. (I must mention here that I did not have a lamp on my head, so I stood in the dark with the sound of bees swarming all around me. A little unnerving, to say the least!).

Then he closed up their entrance outside the house.
It was time for the most harrowing part of the task -- accessing the bees in the ceiling! After removing the sheet rock, we got our first glimpse of them. Thousands of them.

It took a couple of hours to corral all of them into the hive box. The key to success is moving the queen into the box ... without hurting her. The workers will stay with their queen. We sprayed sugar water on some frames to entice them into the box. The rest we vacuumed up and dumped in. Unfortunately, many girls lost their lives as we inadvertently stepped on them or crushed them between the lid and the box. However there were 5 girls who lost their lives that didn't sadden us ... the 5 that stung us. After closing all the girls into the box, we strapped it shut and onto the truck. Our only exit was out the window of the dining room because we had to leave the room sealed. It was almost midnight, we were VERY hot and tired, and it rained hard on us as we packed up. But we consoled ourselves knowing we have a large hive of girls who would make us lots of honey to eat and sell. It was worth it, we agreed. (We also agreed we would never to that again!)

And now, the rest of the story. The bees are gone. The hive is empty. Either we didn't get the queen after all or she was so mad at us that she took off with her entourage to get back at us. Queen bee 1, Scott and Amelia 0. A very disappointing loss.


  1. They didn't return to the house, did they? After all that work, you must be very disappointed!

  2. No, I doubt they went all the way back to Cary. But I do wonder where they are! We are VERY disappointed!!