Saturday, June 11, 2005

Our Own Bee Season......edited below

Some years ago, I noticed swarms of bees around the back corner of our house every morning when I opened the window blinds. We watched them for a few weeks, and upon closer inspection, we discovered that the bees were going under the siding on our house, where it overlapped the brick. They left every morning in a great exodus and they returned throughout the day in a steady stream, and then returned in a swarm about dusk. About the same time, I discovered a discoloration in the corner of the ceiling in my guest bedroom downstairs. At first, I thought it was a water leak, but it was darker and seemed sticky. It took a few weeks for the realization to set in; we were infested with bees.

The pest control people wanted to kill all the bees, but we couldn't let that happen, so we located a bee keeper, who would remove the bees and take them to a hive far away.

He came with his "bee vacuum", his gloves and hat veil, and his smoker. First, he had to expose the bees. It had been determined that they were located in the space between the upstairs master bedroom floor and the ceiling of the guest bedroom below. He moved the furniture, peeled back the carpet, removed 2 layers of subfloor and lo and behold, there was honey as far as the eye could see, and the hum of the bees was so loud you could hear it 15 feet away! The joists were 7-8" deep and the bees had built between the sections of joists about 5 feet square in all.
The smoker makes the bees sort of sleepy, and they won't attack. After he "smokes" them sufficiently, he uses his specially altered vacuum cleaner to suck up the bees into a vented box, which he uses to transport the bees to their new hives. He knows approximately how many bees he is able to get, because the box is supposed to hold 90,000 bees. Believe it or not, when he finished with our house, he had over 300,000 bees, in 3 boxes.
Then came honey removal. This honey was very dark - almost mahogany colored - and very bitter. The bee man said it was because of the types of pollen they gathered. He removed five, 5 gallon buckets of honey, and sad to say, none of it could be eaten. The honey was so heavy; it is a wonder that the ceiling downstairs didn't cave in with the weight of it.
He replaced the subfloor and the carpet, and he caulked the opening outside along the siding where the bees had first gained entry. We thought that would be the last of the bees. Boy, were we wrong.
Four or five years later, it became obvious that bees had once again found an opening into the subfloor. The bee man explained that once the honey had penetrated the surfaces, no matter how well it was removed and cleaned, a residue of honey would always remain for bees to smell. This time there were many fewer bees and much less honey to deal with, since we had noticed them early on in the process. We had to go through the removal process again, and though it was easier this time, it was still a hassle, not to mention the expense. The newest point of entry was located, and it was behind a downspout. That was an area that the bee man had not been able to get the caulking into the first time, due to the awkward position. But this time, he forced it in. So far, we have not been infested again - but from time to time - I see bees investigating the area. We sure do hope they don't find their way into the house again.
Note: my husband says I made an error. The bee boxes each hold 25,000 bees and we had 4 boxes, for a total of about 100k.

22 comments:

vegemiterules said...

G'day Judy,

Great to see you again.

Your post had me really interested. I have never heard of anything like that before.

I hope now that you have finally blocked any access that they try and find again.

Thank heavens these were not "killer bees".

Have a great weekend, or by the way, thank-you for being such a "honey" and sharing this story with us (wink wink wink).

I have had the pleasure again of visiting via Michele's M&G

Petite Mom Blogger said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. My in laws had this same problem last summer and eventually had to kill the bees because they kept coming back...

Last Girl On Earth said...

Hi Judy! Very interesting post. I never knew that you could get bees in your house like that... and then get them out, along with the honey!

Also enjoyed your last post. I should be going to sleep... but here I sit... blogging, and visiting you via Michele this time. Hope you are having a fun weekend! Come by soon.

Thumper said...

I would have moved. Seriously. I would have been so freaked out I would have moved.

Being allergic'll do that to a person...

Angie said...

WOW!! I would like to have bees one day but not in my house. Steven has looked at bee boxes and things but I don't think I am ready for them yet. I am very surprised your flooring did not collaps.

Badaunt said...

This is amazing. We had exactly the same problem in my childhood home, and I'd forgotten all about it.

In our case we didn't have the honey problem, and the bees were inside the walls. From the inside of the house, if you felt the wall it was warm. If you put your ear to it, you could hear them buzzing.

Two of the family were allergic, and my father debated what to do. (Same problem of not wanting to kill them.) They were not aggressive. The only person to get stung was my older brother, who was not allergic, and it wasn't an angry bee but one he sat on - it was on a car seat. (Ouch.)

Just when my father was ready to call in pest control, the hive swarmed and all of them flew off into the sunset. It was astonishing to watch. I don't know what made them go.

They never came back.

Thanks for the memory!

Melissa said...

Bees are so interesting. Too bad the honey wasn't edible!

S said...

What an interesting story! Imagine 300,000 bees living under your floor.
I'm visiting via Michele.

Kristen said...

oh wow...that is a ton of bees and i guess its a good thing i dont like honey cause that would have been a waste...ya know to throw like 25 gal away! haha...hopefully they get out and stay out...by the way im here via michele

Suzanne said...

Hi, Judy. I'm here via Michele. Good luck with the bees!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I am NOT here by way of Michele. I don't even know what I'm doing here. Wonder what's going on over at "Next Blog." Surely it won't be about some dumb bees....

aka_monty said...

Good morning Kenju! Michele sent me over here first thing. :)

You know, I JUST saw a story on the news the other day about this very thing~was that you???? ;)

Hope said...

It actually sounds like a horror movie, something Hitchcock would have done in a nice black and white film. I'm glad you never got stung. Your builder should be happy to hear the ceiling held under those circumstances. It would terrify people to know what can lurk in their walls.

vicki said...

Ignore Hoss. This is fascinating stuff. This is GREAT. Whoa! All those bees! All that honey! How incredibly cool and sticky and expensive. If I were ranking my favorite posts today, which I wouldn't because it would hurt people's feelings, (even though Hoss was just sort of lame and bitter about his gambling losses)- this would be number 1. I LOVE this! Did I mention that I like bees?

FTS said...

That has to be a bit spooky knowing all of those bees are under your feet and over your head.

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

TheBisch said...

We had unusual bee activity this year too.. I've never seen bumblebees bore holes into wood before, but they did! The made these bee sized holes into our back deck.. I just bought some wood glue and filled up the holes and that was the end of our problem. :)

TheBisch said...

By the way - Michele sent me!

christine said...

What an interesting story! Let's just say I hope I never have to encounter this problem. =) I like bees at a distance. I was stung by one was when I was a kid - right smack dab on the tip of my nose. Not exactly my favourite childhood memory....but kind of funny now. =)

Hope you had a nice weekend.

Silver Lining said...

Michele didn't send me today, but what a fascinating story! What a shame the honey was inedible. Could you still have used it on your skin? It makes an excellent antispectic, and moisturiser if you combine it with olive oil...

Have you read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd? You might enjoy it!

panthergirl said...

Um, remind me never to stay in your guest room ok?? I'm so scared of bees! (I've never been stung...it's just a phobia).

Here via Michele.. OH, and even with golf I have plenty of time for Scrabble! I've got three games going right now!

Paul said...

I didn't get to this till today--Monday. My father was a beekeeper. I have gone with him more than once to extract bees from someone home, or tree, or chicken coop, chimney... This was a good and true/accurate story. It made me homesick for days gone by and my late father. You done good.

I am a "friend of the bees." We are rare people. Bees don't sting us. In the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes," one of the girls was a bee charmer. Same thing.

Here I am tooting my horn again, but I have also written stories about beekeeping. You can read them, if you want in my memoirs.
http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/
http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/2004_04_24_douglasaz_archive.html
http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/2004_04_27_douglasaz_archive.html
http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/2004_12_14_douglasaz_archive.html


I enjoyed your Monday post, too.

elle said...

Did you ever have any guests who stayed in that room say, "You know, I didn't really sleep well last night...I kept hearing this weird buzzing noise..."?

I have a hive between an outer and inner window in my house (I can't open either window.) I KNOW I need to get them out of there, but it's just so cool to watch them. Like an ant farm. And I haven't had any bees in the house. Yet. :)