16 March 2013

Horses and Honey Bees

Mmm.  Wild honey.
Last week, when we started tidying our house before the big move-in, Jack pulled down a light fixture that appeared to be full of Asian lady beetles.  Nope.  It was full of honeybees.  Through some sleuthing, Jack discovered we had a colony of bees occupying a vacant space between the walls of our house.  "Oh, joy," was my first thought.  Not Jack.  I don't think he could have been more thrilled if we'd found gold coins stashed in our walls.
Bees are to Jack what horses are to me.  He's fascinated by their complex social behavior, how organized and hardworking they are and above all, that they produce delicious honey.
A full-to-the-brim honeycomb,
All week, Jack studied how to remove wild bees from a home structure without harming them.  Honeybees don't damage homes like termites or carpenter ants.  The problem is though, once they're exterminated or removed, all their honey and honey comb will begin to melt.  Then it's a problem.
Getting ready to work.
So, Jack did a little more research and made an adorable little beehive for the critters and on our first free Saturday, started the work of moving the bees to their new home.
Getting the girls to help him build a bee box.
Luckily, the weather was a bit chilly but well above freezing so the girls weren't overly active or aggressive but weren't freezing to death either.  He peered in the hole they had been using as their entrance and located their hive.  They weren't far from the hole and with the removal of a small section of our house, were easily accessible.
Is it just me or does that give anyone else the heebie jeebies?
It took all day.  I cleaned in preparation of my family arriving for spring break and Jack delicately removed each comb and moved the bees to the prepared beehive.  By the size of their hive, it looks like they had been residing there for a few years at least.
I watched carefully while Jack worked.  Every once in a while he'd throw off his coat and brush frantically at himself but at the end of the day, he only got two stings.  Still, I can boast that I've never been stung.  I plan on keeping it that way.
The bees up in the comb, keeping warm.
It will take a few weeks to see if everything will work out properly.  We're hoping the queen made the transition--if she didn't, all the work was for naught.  They are tough but delicate creatures and I, for one, am more than happy to allow Jack to keep a few docile bees around.  After all he's put up with me and my ornery horses, it's a fair trade.

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