Friday, April 6, 2012

Bee Saga: Chapter IV Not-So-Good-News (Or everything you never wanted to know about bees!)

Okay, if you missed the earlier posts, I suggest you start here: Bee Saga: Chapter I. Go ahead, I'll wait!

So where we last left off, I found myself pondering the possibility of taking on Bee-Trapping as a "DIY" Project...

(You didn't really believe that, did you?!)

The short answer is "No."

The slightly longer answer is "Oh HELL no!"

And the "War & Peace" answer follows... (Yes, still MORE rambling!!!)

So I spent a few hours - just Google and Me - learning WAAAAAY more about bees than I ever thought I'd need to know!

Then I shot off an email to one of the (cue the banjo music) Bee-Trappers, explaining our predicament and asking if he could help us.

Well sh*t howdy - what is it with these Bee People I wonder? Within, like, 20 minutes I got a phone call back.

Bee-Peeps: They are ALL OVER IT!

Almost like a swarm, actually!
And no - Thank Gawd - this isn't our tree!
(pic borrowed from Wikipedia)

Anyway, his first words were "I have bad news for you" which, obv, was not what I wanted to hear. First-off, luring bees out of trees is "one of the hardest things to do" (or words to that effect), hence the rather hefty price tag. And we'll get into that momentarily...

The REALLY bad news part is: If there's a hive of bees living INSIDE of your tree, chances are the tree is very sick so "You need to start out by calling an arborist."

Evidently, bees need a fairly large hollow space to call home. We're talking appx 8-10 gallons worth of space. If there's THAT big of a cavity inside of the tree, and that tree towers about 30' tall and about-as-wide directly over your house, and it's unhealthy..? Well, suddenly bees are no longer your biggest worry, right?

Bees are the SYMPTOM of a much bigger problem

:::BIG SIGH:::

I guess I can't keep my Killer Bees a Secret anymore - so I summarized my findings in a somewhat-succinct (and therefore dry-and-boring) email to hubs (who was out of town, at the time - and yes, sometimes it IS best to deliver bad-news from a distance! ;-).

Anyway... Let me tell you what I learned about bee-trapping ("Oh yes, please DO!").

Essentially what needs to happen is:
  • Somebody's got to climb up in the tree to get a better look at the hive situation (Not gonna be me - given my fear of heights. And not gonna be Hubs - given his fear of bees!).

  • Then ALL of the hive entrances need to be sealed-off - except for ONE.

  • Then a one-way trap-door thingie needs to be constructed of hardware mesh. Evidently this is some kinda long-skinny cone-shaped thingie that'll allow the worker bees to leave, but not return. And the trap-door thingie has to be sized so that only the worker bees can escape - not the larger drones.

  • Then a second, functioning (and accessible/removable) hive needs to be set-up so the "Oh sh*t I'm locked-out!" bees can begin their exodus by being lured into a new home.

  • Now - get this - there are "Guard Bees" stationed outside of the hives. Guard bees don't let strangers in, as a rule, but worker-bees wearing pollen will be welcomed into the hive.

    Kinda like one of those snooty night-clubs where everybody's shuffling from foot-to-foot while standing in line for-EVAR and the bouncer, Bruno-with-the-bulging-biceps is, like, totally not letting anyone in except for the sexy b*tches in miniskirts who sashay up to the front of the line and bat their eyes just-so and all that sh*t. Yeah, like that!

    (and you thought this was gonna be boring!)

  • The best time to start this process, actually, is early-spring because the bees' honey-stores will be mostly-depleted - since all they do is sleep and eat-honey through winter (lazy bastitches!). Since they're just-now ramping-up production, it will be easier for them to be welcomed into their new home (as described above).

  • The second-best time of year to do this is toward the end of summer - when there's no more pollen to collect and they start to settle-in for winter. Downside to that is: You'll have a hive (or, in my case, TREE) full of honey which will be a magnet for wasps, mice, rats, and other undesirables...

  • BTW - Exterminating the bees IN the hive is a bad idea because the aforementioned vermin-types, evidently, find the smell of dead-bee bodies (+ honey) to be irresistible ("Ew!").

  • Now this whole bee-exodus/process takes approximately 6 weeks to complete. And the beekeeper has to keep coming back to check on things.
  • He has to make sure that he did, in fact, seal all of the entrances so that the bees aren't getting back into the tree-hive.

  • And make sure that no fat-drones got jammed up in the exit of the one-way trap-door cone-thingie.

  • If the new-hive gets over-crowded, he replaces it with a new one and the exodus continues...

  • At some point, the queen realizes that her (fickle) minions have deserted her and she stops performing her Queenly-duties (not entirely sure what that means - but I'm guessing she gets all depressed roaming around in her big empty Queendom and starts cursing and throwing things and becoming an all-around PMS-b*tch).
Once most of the bees have been evicted, there's a whole 'nuther set of issues to deal with. Seems that an abandoned-hive is a magnet for other roving bees (excuse me - I think that'd be a "swarm!"). So if you leave an open, empty hive alone - well, you might as well put up a "For Rent" sign because you will quickly find yourself with a brandy-new batch o' bees! (So - even if Pest Control *had* been successful at nuking the hive, last year - the problem will soon return).

Bottom Line: When it's all said-and-done, the hive needs to be closed-up and (presumably) goozed-up, inside, with something that will make it inhospitable for future bee inhabitants.

Annnnd... Every year afterward, somebody's gotta go up there with some kinda sealant to make sure all of the entrances remain closed because, as the tree continues to grow, the formerly-sealed openings will, well, re-open and that whole "Come on and move in!" threat returns.

* * * * *
So that, pretty-much, sums up all that I learned about bee-trapping. Well, that and the fact that attempting to "start-up" as a beekeeper with my very own "Hobby Hive" would be an expensive venture (to say nothing of "Stressful" - srsly, go read through Finny's Beekeeping Exploits! That girl is certifiable!!!)

Nowwwwww................. Not sure if the Bee Saga stories are gonna continue, or if I'm gonna switch gears and call it "Tree Removal" (which, honestly, sounds way more boring if you ask me!). Hubs did call a Certified Arborist (Not "Sumdood with a Chainsaw") and he's supposed to come out on Monday to give the tree a look-see. I have a sneaking suspicion that the $1,000 price-tag for bee-removal is gonna sound downright cheap if it turns out that Monster Tree has to go!

We'll see what happens. Stay tuned for updates!

In the meantime, I have Garden Chores to attend to, and more Ceramic Pieces to glaze (this weekend, I hope!). And I think we have some Boat-Chores to complete as well...

The fun never stops I tellya!

Next up in the saga: Monster Tree stories

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