Sunday, July 26, 2015

We Find a Bee Man

July is our time for big storms. In fact, the storm that took down one of our big Chinese elm trees and knocked the top off the gas meter happened in July 2010. You can read Librarian Needs Spelling Lessons and the following posts for that frightening adventure. This year was no different; the wild storm of July 10 brought down half of another Chinese elm and its branch full of bees. 

The swarm hanging off of the branch on the ground

The swarm was located in that shady area in the foreground

Bill sawed away the surrounding wood

Ours were honeybees and very calm and focused on their job of protecting the queen and waiting for the scout bees to find them a new home. They were not "killer" or Africanized bees, which will attack in great numbers at the least little disturbance.

Normally, we would let nature take its course and just wait for the swarm to relocate. However, the rest of our trees are going to be removed, and we are surrounded by pecan orchards that are regularly sprayed. Out of concern for the welfare of the bees, we decided to find someone to relocate them.

It took a lot of asking around until we spoke with some honey producers at the local Farmers Market. They directed us to Anthony, who is starting up some hives. This was only his second time gathering up a swarm and he did a wonderful job, with his calm demeanor and gentle movements. 

Not all bee swarm captures are so calm and successful; to see some really awful ones just go to YouTube and search "bees swarms gone bad." I couldn't watch any of the videos to the end!

Anthony uses the smoker to calm the bees

High-tech equipment: An old bed sheet

The chunk of wood with the bees is carefully lifted and set onto the sheet

The whole thing is carefully wrapped to keep the bees safely inside

When the swarm and the branch were all wrapped up, they were placed in the bed of Anthony's truck and off they went to their new home up in the Organ Mountains. 

Once the bees are settled in their branch on the ground at Anthony's place, he plans to "build around them," using the top-bar method. We had a delightful time talking bees, sharing the capture experience, and taking pictures along with Anthony, his wife Lydia, and their sweet pup Lennie.

If you need a good bee whisperer in the Las Cruces area, let me know in the comments.


"The telling of the bees is a traditional English custom, in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper's lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. The bees were most commonly told of deaths in their master's family. The custom was prevalent all over England, as well as in a few places in Ireland and Wales..." -- From Wikipedia, Telling the Bees.

You'll want to see this video of a four-year-old handling bees.


Sylvia K said...

What a great and interesting post, Clairz!! Didn't know there were Bee Men!! Does make sense though!! Hope your summer is going well!!

OmaLindasOldeBaggsandStuftShirts said...

I worked at a fabric store called Beehive Fabrics. And yes there were beehives out back of the shop. Every year the owners took a vacation to England to visit family and every year while they were gone, the hives would swarm. They had a bee "wrangler" on retainer and I'd call and he'd come and gather the new queen and her bees and take them to the Sandia Mountains to his honey farm. It was always a sight to see the bees do their thing.
Thanks for this great post.
PS I'm loving my light and dark pink hollyhocks this year, they are beautiful. Linda

Unknown said...

A happy ending and a great story! I'm so glad they were able to be relocated to a new, safe home! When you gaze at the Organ Mountains, you will now think of those bees!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Very interesting series; I enjoyed reading and looking at your great pictures of the process, but don't think I could handle the videos. (Alligators and snakes I'm OK with, bees scare me. I know that's weird. And I appreciate what the honeybees do for us really I do, but ....