Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's the Bees Knees -- Err Trees! (Bee-Saga: Chapter I)

Warning: Rampant Rambling ahead (You have been warned)!

But it *is* Garden-related, so I'll file it thusly!

QT's Bee Saga - Chapter I - The Background:

Hmmm... Where to begin? I have many, many bee-stories I could tell (but some of 'em may have been wasp stories - hard to say). Let's just go back to last spring and start there, shall we?

We have this Big-Mamma-Jamma Ginormous Schinus molle tree in our front yard. It's been there since forever. It's pretty. It provides shade. But it poops like hell (leaves, red berries, whatevers, pretty-much year round). Well, last year we noticed that a colony of bees had taken up residence in said tree. Given it's rather monstrous size, and my fondness for remaining firmly-attached to the ground, and the standard "common-sense" avoidance of stinging insects, I never really investigated it to determine exactly *where* they lived.

To be honest, I didn't particularly care! I rather like the bees because they do a simply stupendous job of pollinating all of my fruits and veggies! Plus I subscribe to the belief that "If you don't f**k with them, they won't f**k with you," right?!

I could wander back into the garden, all "Tra-la-la-la-la" with bees buzzing all around me, and never once did I get stung! In fact, I rather enjoyed trying to catch close-up shots of them like thus:

Check out Tubby the Bumblebee on the top,
and underneath - to the left - is a little honeybee!

(We're talking about little honeybees, by the way.
Not Tubby McBumble.)

Hubs, on the other hand, does not share my "Live and Let Live" attitude. He is of the belief that ALL stinging insects are "Out to Get Him!" And, in fact, I do *attempt* to stifle a few good laughs (with varying degrees of success) whenever he perceives that he is being "Attacked" by the Vile Creatures (he performs a most entertaining "interpretive dance")!

To be fair hubs *is* allergic. We aren't talking "Anaphylactic-Shock/Call 9-1-1" Allergic, but he does swell-up and feels pretty lousy whenever he does get stung (usually by the wasps who *also* like to claim our yard as their home).

Anyway, last year, he called out Pest-Control a couple of times - to have them nuke the hive ("Boo! Hiss!") (those are the words on the inside!). My guess was that they weren't successful at eradicating the queen because the bees returned...

Late last year, hubs had a "Tree Service" come out to do a serious trimming of the Monster Tree. And by "Tree Service," I mean some dude who showed up our doorstep with a business card, offering to trim our tree. As a rule, I stay out of all that business ("That's MAN'S work!"), but after they shook hands, Jose showed up in his pick-up truck with a ladder, some chainsaws, and a couple of "Home Depot Amigos." I'm not sure, but I suspect he wasn't licensed, bonded, or insured. But - like I say - I stay out of it!

Imagine the three amigos' surprise when they discovered - after climbing into the upper canopy - that they would be working alongside an angry horde of bees! To their credit, they did do an amazingly good job of trimming the tree back. I have no clue if anybody got stung, but the job got done for a reasonable price (and very, very quickly!)...

And, of course, after they left, the bees then resumed their duties, pollinating my garden, and ensuring a most bountiful harvest. Yay Bees!

In the meantime, I learned a little more about bees and beekeeping by following Finny's Beekeeping Exploits. Frankly, it seems like an awful lot of work (just getting the permit from the City - alone - would have been enough to stop me!)... But it's fun to experience beekeeping vicariously. I like to think I'm doing my own beekeeping - without all the work (and also without the benefit of harvest-able honey or beeswax!).

So anyway... Last summer drew to a close and the bees seemed to have all-but disappeared...

And Hubs has been watching documentaries on Netflix about Honeybee Collapse and all of that stuff...

And I get to wondering about "What if the bees return?" and thinking how awful it would be to lose them (Worse still: To be responsible for their demise in the form of "calling Pest Control" again!). So I dropped Finny an email (she, being the ONLY beekeeper I know, and therefore an EXPERT!!!) ("Ha!" uttered with all-due-respect). End result: She pointed me to the Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild and said that they would have resources for removing the hive, if the need arose.

Now, my Evil Plan was to "keep" the bees for as long as possible (hoping that hubs would remain oblivious!) ("Ha! Fat Chance!"). At the very least, I was hoping to get through springtime so my fruit trees would get pollinated. And hubs' Outdoor Responsibilities (lawn mowing, pool-setup) usually don't occur until after Tree-Pollination is complete. So, there's a "chance" I can make it!!!

My Biggest Goal, of course, was to avoid calling Pest-Control out again to Kill The Bees ("Nnnnooooo!!!!!").

So, up until a few days ago, the hive seemed to be pretty quiet, right? I mean, yeah, when the fruit trees were blossoming, I did see a few bees - but nothing like last summer. So maybe this'll be a non-issue, right?


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