So last weekend I decided to clean off the patio. We live in an apartment and the only “private” outdoor area we have to ourselves is a 8 X 10 deck. The weather was beautiful and I wanted to be able to soak in some rays while reading a book outdoors. I have been really ambitious this year growing tomatoes, so I was fussing about with some rather large plants and one in a “Topsy Turvy” (those infomercial things where you grow the plants upside down). Well the upside-down one wasn’t doing so well and I thought I would switch spots with it and a beautiful bird feeder my Mom made out of a gourd for me many years ago. I had it hanging up in hopes that, like last year, some birds would make a nest in and have some babies.
I moved the tomatoes and set the gourd on a table. I then started to notice bees. Quite a lot of bees. And
they seemed agitated. On closer inspection , I noticed that they were flying in and out of the opening in the bird house. Apparently, they were making a nest in it. One or two started flying around my head, I freaked out and ran inside to tell Dave what I had done/found. He came out to look and said that we could kill them. I wasn’t sure what to do.
In my freaking out and running back and that they help food to grow, and oh something else about africanized-attack-killer bees. So I was a bit conflicted about what to do. I mean they weren’t flies or mosquito, they were bees. Bees are generally good and sort of keep the world going around. And I felt pretty certain that they weren’t killer bees or I would be a bee-stung swollen mess already and struggling for air.
So I told Dave I didn’t think we should kill them, thought maybe I could find someone to relocate them and yes, I know how Portlandia that sounds. Nonetheless I started looking online and found a number of bee enthusiasts that said they would come get your bees and take them to a happy bee place where they could live their happy bee lives in peace. I started exchanging emails with one really nice guy who offered to come over with his bee hat, bee suit and bee smoker. The process would be for him to come over at dusk (because that’s when bees slowdown) He would then use his bee smoker on them to make them even more docile and then try to shake them into his hive. Yay great, bee issue solved!
Well no, it turns out that after he showed my bee pictures around, he realized that they were not honeybees but some type of bumblebee and he only dealt with honeybees. He gave me the name of an exterminator and they said I could just cover the hole of the gourd and wait until they died. Not really what I wanted to do.
In the meantime the bee-guy had put up an ad on Craigslist and a couple of people said they wanted the bumble bees. But the week was busy with other stuff and I didn’t want random people coming through the house who may or may not be well versed in how to “re-home” bees and drag the nest and bunch of angry bees through our apartment. It just started to sound like a bad scene out of a Ben Stiller comedy.
So after all of that, I finally decided to see just how bad it was hanging out with the bees. I sat out on my deck for an hour or so to see if they would bother me or worse sting me. They didn’t, they just buzzed back and forth doing whatever it is that bees do all they. They were truly “busy bees”. Dave pointed out that maybe there was a lesson here about getting along with your neighbor and we should just let them be. So Dave then bravely decided he could move them with a stick to a hook outside our window but not over our deck. He successfully transported them and didn’t even get stung, even though they totally started surrounding his head (which I decided not to point out while he was moving them). The bees were NOT happy for a few hours and kept flying back to where they had last seen their home and queen and generally freaking out. I kept feeling bad about it and worried that they would never find their way home. It was only 10 feet away from where it had been but apparently that is much further to a bee. There was one sad bumblebee that kept flying into the corner railing and bonking into to it numerous times.
Anyway, the bees seem to be OK now. Periodically I can even hear them buzzing into the gourd like bombers. So everyone is happy now. I hope I get good tomatoes out of this.
Some things you might like to know about bumblebees:
- They are very good pollinators and so great to have in your garden to keep it growing.
- They like to make homes in dirt, logs and (as I found out) old bird houses. So if you have a bird house not in use with the bird nesting stuff still in it and DON’T want bees, clean it out.
- If you have bees somewhere you don’t want them and want to find out how to re-home them without killing them. Check out this website for information and people local to you that can help with your bees: http://www.bees-on-the-net.com/menu-list.html
- Here is a very depressing documentary on the Vanishing Bees: http://www.vanishingbees.com/