It was a very small, very well-behaved swarm—just what a couple of rookies needed! We got the call Sunday afternoon from our youngest daughter’s best friend’s boyfriend Nate, who is the station captain for one of the local fire districts. Would we rescue a swarm of bees? A homeowner had been taking it easy in his backyard when he heard a loud bam-clatter-crash, and seconds later a cloud of bees flew into his yard and settled in tree. Rather than going for a can of Raid, he called the fire department.
The homeowner wanted the bees gone but didn’t want them foamed so Nate asked him if he would wait for a bee rescue squad (Nate’s words, not mine). The Goat and I didn’t exactly jump at the chance, but we agreed it was time to walk the walk, a decision followed by frenzied thumbing through Beekeeping for Dummies, our go-to book for all things bee and frantic calls to beekeeping buddies who do rescues on a regular basis.
A couple of hours later, we showed up at the rescue site in our bee suits, a bottle of Benadryl hidden deep inside my pants pocket. We really impressed Juan, the homeowner, as we studied the bees sans hoods, laid a tarp under the tree and placed a hive box directly under the swarm. A small crowd gathered in the kitchen and watched every move from behind the safety of the glass patio door.
Juan believed we knew what we were doing, but the Goat ruined it by confessing it was our first rescue. Nate and his crew showed up while we were studying the situation. I wonder what the neighbors thought when the shiny red fire truck pulled up and stayed for the whole afternoon.
After careful study, it was time to take the test. We’d ascertained half of the swarm was clinging to the main trunk, but the other half had worked its way around a bowl-shaped bird feeder hanging by a chain from a smaller branch. We pulled on our bee veils, and the Goat triumphantly unhooked the chain from the tree to transfer the bees into the waiting box . Easy-peasy. Except the chain broke in his hand, and the bee clump experienced a rather unpleasant landing. At least they made it into the box!
To be continued . . .