Saturday, April 30, 2011

How not to catch a swarm of feral honeybees


As the spring progresses, I'm continuing to get calls about swarms of feral honeybees.

This morning, I turned down a request to remove a colony of bees from someone's walls. (I don't have the skills to open up walls, remove bees and honeycomb, and then restore everything once the bees are gone.)

I did, however, drive up to the Berkeley hills, to see if I could help remove a swarm from a backyard apple tree.

This swarm was huge, the largest I'd ever seen.

Everything seemed pretty straightforward. I'd give the branch a sharp shake, and the bees would fall into the wooden hive-box that I'd set up on an upended garbage can. A shower-curtain-liner would catch all of the loose bees, and would serve as a wrapper for the hive-box, when I put it in my car.

Sounded simple, right?

Well, as you can see, the bees did not land neatly in the box, as suggested by the magenta arrow. Instead, they fell smack on the ground, in the middle of a blackberry thicket. The bees were furious. And I'm sure the homeowner was pretty unimpressed. Because the bees were all tangled up in the undergrowth, there was no simple was to scoop them into the hive-box.

When I tried brushing the bees that remained on the apple tree into the box, they went a bit crazy.

Once again, I was stung repeatedly on the ass. This is not a method for instilling a sense of comfort or confidence, either in the homeowner, or the beekeeper.

I'll be returning tomorrow with a few more tools, and with Robb in tow, to see if I can finish the job that I started so badly


Anonymous said...

as always it is very entertaining to watch photos like this:)

Also, I think that it's a very nice way to sympathize with Smog and his shaved butt - now you are two in the family with butts out of shape:) hopefully you will both feel better soon:)

And hopefully you will do better with those bees next time:)

Anonymous said...

To quote a famous honey lover, "Christopher Robin, I think these are the wrong sorts of bees..."


kingbee said...

just grab a handful and put them in the box

Summersweet Farm said...

Oh, no! And here I thought swarming bees simply wouldn't sting. Gah, awful! Too bad you didn't have a helper to help lift the box up to the branch during shaking. :(

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

No wonder you're so brave around swarms!!!!

Y'all have to see her video!


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