Saturday brought the usual “check the bait boxes routine”, sigh over no bees yet, and daub some lemon grass oil on the outside. The first box I looked at was on the feral tree on private land. “WOW, I’ve got bees and they’re bringing in pollen. That means they’ve got a laying queen.” What do I do now? I’ll check the other bait hive across from the park…”WOW, that’s got bees too, and they’re are also bringing in pollen. Yikes, I can’t handle two at once.” I talked with Hal who advised me to wait until all the foragers came in. That would be another two hours. Went home to get my wife so she could provide moral support.
At 8:15 pm we stuffed some paper into the entrance hole and duct taped it securely. Got back around 8:45 pm. Should we stick them in now or wait til morning? We might get rain in the morning and it’ll only take a few minutes, let’s just put them in now. Plan is to unscrew the lid of the bait box, lift out the bars, put them in the top of Bee Beard log hive, put the quilt box in and pivot the hat back in place.
Since I had just had a successful swarm retrieval two days prior, I had confidence this would take about 15 minutes then we sit down for a cup of tea and congratulate ourselves.
The transfer did not go as planned…I didn’t suit up properly, it was almost dark, and as soon as I started to remove the lid I knew I was in trouble. Wife says…”sounds like they’re mad.” I tried gently lifting the bars out, but had to jerk them a bit. The bees went ballistic. Then the stings started. They got up into my bee suit between the veil and my face, up my pant legs, and on my wrists. At least I found out I’m not allergic to multiple bee stings, although I’m itching a bit. I had to vacate the area with the box lid part way open, the top of the log hive open, and our confidence shot.
All night I’m trying to formulate a plan of action for the next day…wondering what the heck I was doing…how did I ever think I would be able to pull this off, are these bees going to attack my wife and I when we’re working in the garden? What about our pets? Why did I want feral bees? What was I thinking?
Next day I called Shigeo from the Coos County Beekeepers Association. We talked about the incident and about the other bait hive which I was NOT about to get. He says to call Randy. Well, I know Randy, he’s awfully busy with his regular job, plus the last count of swarms he had gotten, was 23 and that was a week ago. He probably doesn’t need any more. I’ll call Del, another club member. We talk for awhile, he builds up my confidence and says “call Randy.” I call Randy who luckily happens to be working with the bees in the blueberry farm on the coast. (my area). Randy says he’ll be over as he finished up early on the blueberries.
I better get ready. Find the smoker. (never been used), light it up so it looks like we know what we’re doing. Very soon, Randy and Loni were driving in. “Hey I got my smoker lit up, do you want it?” “Don’t need it with suits, besides the bees don’t like smoke.” They zipped up their veils, walked confidently up to the hive, bees still circling angrily. Within a few minutes, they emptied the bait box of the remaining bees, got the bars into the log hive, installed the quilt box and pivoted the hat in place. They said the bees will settle down in a while and not too worry too much about working in the garden, they’d get used to you, but if they go through a dearth, they might get a little testy. We were much relieved.
It was nice to see a husband and wife team working with bees. They have worked together for about 20 years so know exactly what to do to put things right. Their business name is Oregon Mountain Wild Honey.
A short video of Bee Beard can be seen here… Bee Beard Gets Bees
Video of the carving of Bee Beard