If you missed Part 1: Call of Duty, read it first!
Fortunately the clump had the queen in it so all we had to do was wait for the other half to get the message that she was in the box. That’s what took so long. If she had still been on the tree, the bees in the box would have swarmed right back to it. (We learned all this on the way over there.)
At this point I brought out the piece d’resistance: a cotton ball laced with ProHealth feeding stimulant. ProHealth is to bees what catnip is to cats and dark chocolate is to me. Containing lemongrass and spearmint oil, the stuff smells so good I’d bathe in it if it weren’t so dang sticky. I pitched the cotton ball into the box, and the bees were on it in seconds.
One of the kitchen watchers came out while we waited for the remaining bees to go into the hive box. She sported several Navy tattoos, a Navy shirt, a Navy haircut, and a buff Navy figure—definitely a Navy girl, I’d say. She could have eaten me for lunch, yet she praised my “bravery” and confessed that she’d NEVER be able to do what I’d just done. Apparently I’d impressed the heck out of her when I stuck my head into the tree branches ten inches from the ball of bees with no hood on.
But I knew those bees weren’t out to get me, and she didn’t. You see, since a bee swarm has no brood or honey to protect, the bees aren’t defensive. They’re just looking for a new home and hanging out while their scout bees check out the surroundings. It’s a whole different scene after the bees get dumped into a box. That upsets them a bit, but they settle down. Eventually.
We spent three hours talking with the firefighters, who were more than a little leery of the situation, including Nate, who confessed he is allergic to bees. When things calmed down and only a few bees were left on the tree, we crept closer to check things out. One bee lay on her back on the hive cover, struggling to turn over. She succeeded and that’s when I saw that her abdomen was completely gone. I guess she was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the chain broke. She was uninjured from antennae to hind legs and able to crawl, but I knew she was doomed. Not wanting to squish her, I coaxed her onto a dandelion leaf and put her in the grass where she could die in peace. Is it stupid to care how a bee dies?
After the scout bees came home and the last bee was in the hive, we taped up the box and hauled it to our truck. I got a hug from Juan and a picture of me with Nate and his big red truck. Too bad I looked so stupid—mashed-flat hair and dorky, unflattering marshmallow-woman shirt and pants. At least I wasn’t on fire.
Coming up next–getting the bees home. And keeping them there. Stay tuned!