Finally, a lull in the storm . . .

and then a swarm.

That’s how it is with life on the bayou. It seems there is never a dull moment. And maybe there are no dull moments in city or suburban life, but I suspect those moments are a little different from ours.

After being sick, living out of ice chests for 5 days, and being without hot water for 6, I was looking forward to the dull moments. I was well rewarded for all my efforts with several days of absolutely gorgeous spring weather, complete with waking to the sound of thousands of birds chirping at daylight, calling to remind me that the bird feeders were empty and that they were very, very hungry. You might not believe me, but I feed these birds every winter, and they tell all their friends and relatives, and they come in droves to feed. Photo coming soon!

And in only one week, my fig tree went from stark naked, to this . . .
figtree.jpg

And the swamp maple went from bleak to bold . . .
spring2.jpg

And the yard went from crispy gray to this . . .
spring1.jpg

And the honey bees went from slipping into the wall of my house behind the water heater to this . . .
beeswarm.jpg

While replacing the water heater last week, I noticed bees flying into a tiny hole in the wall behind the water heater closet. I sealed it with spray foam, knowing that the queen must be in the wall somewhere. I trusted she would find a way of escape, and she did.

Some of you might know that bees have natural enemies that have threatened their existence in the wild. Beekeepers medicate their bee hives annually enabling the bees to survive attacks of Varoa and tracheal mites, which almost made feral bees extinct in the US.

The truth is, I haven’t “kept” bees since Hurricane Rita washed away my bee boxes and drowned most of my bees. However, at least one queen escaped.

She escaped and settled in my roof rather than out in a tree. Eventually, the colony grew strong and built rows of honey comb about four feet long up under the roof. That became a real problem, and I had to do something beekeepers really hate to do–hire an exterminator with the proper equipment. It cost us a pretty penny to get rid of those bees, and I was upset that I had to do it.

So here we are, a year after extermination, and another swarm of bees is following their queen to a new home. These must be what you would call “domesticated bees”, because rather than fly off to a hole in a tree, they continue to set up housekeeping somewhere in my house. This time, they were going underneath it.

Because these bees continue to live unmedicated, indicating they are quite hardy, it made the task at hand even harder to do. If I could have captured the queen before she went up under my house, maybe I could have re-established them in one of my bee boxes. But that was not the case. So, I had to do the terrible thing that beekeepers hate to do. And I apologized profusely to them as I did so. My actions still made me very sad.

I miss keeping bees and the fresh honey . . . and no one ever told me what I have come to accept as fact, “Once you have bees, you always have bees.”

Maybe I’ll get one more chance to get them back into their boxes . . .

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Comments

Finally, a lull in the storm . . . — 2 Comments

  1. how pretty!!!! This is one of the few perks living down here vs Alaska…the early spring!!! I noticed the hospitals azaleas starting to bloom and yet the Iditarod race started this Sunday….
    This reminds me of the book the Secret Life of Bees..loved that book. I understand the colony follows the queen, but as a dumb question, can you not take they honey comb and transplant it elsewhere?? (ignorant of beekeeping). Fascinating creatures.
    Deb

    Hey Deb. I loved that book, too! I’ve never heard of transplanting the comb, as they are programmed to make and fill it. One other reader asked if I would talk more about keeping bees, and I just might do that — educate you through photos as to what is involved. Yes, they are fascinating creatures. I think the category Bayou Bees is in the making!

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