Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Day the Queen Dropped By

I though I was going to have a very low-key day. It actually started out more low-key than normal. I ate a leisurely breakfast, I didn't get dressed (not in street clothes anyway), I turned off the phones and the dogs and I headed out to the pool and I started a new book I had been looking forward to reading. The neighborhood was calm and quiet and the dogs were sleeping next to me. After about 30 minutes of calm, on the far side of the house, I heard what sounded like a cracking sound followed by a thump. By the time I had looked up there was nothing to see but it sounded like a branch must have broken off of one of our neighbor's trees. It didn't sound like it was a large branch, so I decided to keep reading.

Some time later, maybe 15 minutes, I happened to look up and there were a lot of bees swarming and darting about very fast over our roof and our neighbors yard on the other side of the house. The dogs and I headed inside to check things out, and this is what we found:

 Bees! Lots of bees! A branch had fallen down and it landed right next to one of our doors. I stood there for quite a while wondering when they would fly away. After another 30 minutes or so, I came back in to check it out and now it looked like this:

 I immediately closed all of the doors and windows! It sounded like the house was being pelted with pebbles! The bees were on a rampage to protect their queen who was on our doorstep!

At this point, I called dear hubby and told him that we had a big problem! Because we have never encountered a problem like this on our property, he called the city. Well, they told him he needed to call 911! 

What? I said, I don't think so, we need a bee person! The city said to call 911. Ok, I will call 911, but I don't know what they can do. So, I call 911, and they said, 911, what is your emergency? I said, Uuhhhh...I'll spare you most of the embarrassing details...and you guessed it...they don't do bees. Do you want me to transfer you to the fire department? What would they be able to do? Assess the situation. She was very nice and gave me a number for a different city agency, so I called them. Same thing, call the fire department. I call hubby back, I tell him, I'm not calling the fire department, what can they do? He calls someone else from the city, they say call the fire department, so he calls the fire department, then called me to tell me that they were on the way!

I could hear their truck roll up within about five minutes. Keep in mind that today, of course, I'm looking worse than a hausfrau! Thank goodness they didn't have their sirens going, my neighbors would still be laughing! Three very nice firemen followed me through the yard and into the house and yes, they confirmed, That is a lot of bees! You need to call an exterminator! I told them I was sorry and embarrassed that they had to come to my house to tell me that. They said no problem, it was the right thing to do. Anytime there are swarming bees that could be a threat to human life, you need to call 911 so they can determine the threat level. They don't remove the bees, but they would blockade the area to keep people away from harm! I said, Ok, thank you very much for coming! They thought the house was cool, asked some questions about it and then they followed me back out the gate to leave. 

I called my even dearer hubby back and said, You can be glad that you didn't have to endure the embarrassment of inviting three very nice firemen into the house while you were standing there in your housecoat at 1pm in the afternoon, to tell you that yes, those are bees and you need to call an exterminator! So, dear hubby called and found an exterminator that could be here within two hours. Great! 

By this time, the hum of the bees is so loud you can hear it through the door and windows.

The doggies are trying to figure out what is going on out there!

I was hoping that the queen bee would realize she was in a dangerous place and fly away. All of her worker bees would have followed her and all would be well. But alas, that didn't happen. The bee man arrived and the bees weren't budging. I asked him if he could take the bees away alive and he said that he wished that he could, but it is against the law to do that within the city limits. It just doesn't seem right. They say the world has a shortage of bees, but it's against the law to save them. The only choice is to kill them if you live in the city. I'm still trying to make sense of that information. Believe me, I wanted to save these bees, but I'm only one woman and I didn't have a beekeepers suit handy! 

The next time I saw him, he was armed and ready to start.

  Before I let him spray, he assured me that it was a natural product and not harmful to people or pets.

 He is trying to shake them off of the largest branch.

He said that the queen was probably on this smaller branch when it broke off because that is where the main cluster of bees were.

It's not surprising that this thin little branch broke

He sprayed all the foliage along the wall to keep the bees that are still swarming away. Before we or our doggies walk through there, we will hose it all down just to make sure all of the spray is gone.

Cleaning up

He said there was about five to six pounds of bees in that bag. 

He also said that there were more bees than he expected from his first glance and that he had never seen a colony that large. He said they were honey bees without any honeycomb, which means they hadn't been in the tree long enough. It takes about two to three months in one place to produce. We need to stay away from that side of the house for about two days because it takes the bees about that long to stop searching for their queen. Once they find another queen, they will be gone. I'm hoping there is a queen bee somewhere far, far away from here that is looking for lost worker bees.

So much for a low-key day!

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