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Any beekeepers about?

Y’all know we have a honey bee problem. We suspect the main hive is in the attic, but a swarm forms on the outside of the chimney on sunny days every Summer. We have yet to spend the money necessary to get this resolved because it hasn’t been a serious problem.

Today as I sat peacefully in a deckchair, a single bee came after me aggressively. Flying repeatedly into my face, my shirtpocket (!) getting tangled in my hair and, eventually, stinging me on the jaw.

I am absolutely not someone that panics at the sight of a stinging insect. I prefer to sit quietly until they get bored with me. I’ve never been stung doing that.

Thing is, it happened later with two more bees, though not the point of being stung. First time, I got up and went in the house to escape. Second time, I was armed with a can of fly spray.

I was playing the banjo, but I’ve been doing that in the garden for ten weeks, or however long we’ve been locked down. I wasn’t wearing anything different (literally, I wear the same shabby garden clothes every day). I hadn’t eaten anything strange. I wasn’t wearing a scent. I’m a goodly way away from the house, with my back to the swarm.

Swarmed. One bee at a time. What’s pissing them off?


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: June 2, 2020, 7:33 pm

They can’t stand A minor Obvs.

Comment from Janet A. Roesler
Time: June 2, 2020, 8:04 pm

After 10 weeks of the banjo, they finally snapped and just couldn’t take it any more. You’re lucky you don’t play the accordion. You wouldn’t be alive to tell the story.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: June 2, 2020, 8:07 pm

I was playing the banjo, but I’ve been doing that in the garden for ten weeks…

Even a bee can stand only so much banjo…..

“Buzz, Buzz, Dammit, if she plays Dueling Banjos One More TIME!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2020, 8:11 pm

That’s why we cherish accordion players, Janet: the only instrumentalists more hated than us.

Joke’s on you, Some Veg. I don’t even know Dueling Banjos. It was Wreck of the Old 97 and a little bit of Hamilton County Breakdown today.

Comment from Mitch
Time: June 2, 2020, 9:20 pm

They’re members of Bee Lives Matter and they want to Tear Down The System to make way for a more just and equitable one.

*Starts buzzing “We Shall Overcome”*

Comment from Mark
Time: June 2, 2020, 9:47 pm

They’ve become Africanized or lost their queen?

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: June 2, 2020, 9:55 pm

You only thought that was a bee.

It was a tagging drone from Chickenworld.

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:07 pm

Kept bees for a few years. Once we started having kids we could not keep up with both bees and kids, so we gave up on the bees. It was a good choice.

I don’t know how it works in Britain [probably with a lot more bureaucracy and environmental barriers] but here having bees take up residence around a chimney is fairly easy to handle.

We contact the County Extension Agent of the State AG Dept. He or she keeps a list of beekeepers who volunteer to remove bee swarms/hives for free. They are more than willing to because another hive of bees is pure profit.

Contact someone on the list and they come out and inspect. Removal is usually non-destructive. [I know, y’all live in a place with more than a little bit of age on it] Smoke pacifies the bees and they gather and once he can get the queen, then the rest will follow. He’ll put them in one or more hive supers with frames and take them away. Any that he misses, unfortunately, will die, but it is what it is.

He’ll set the super up in a safe place at first, sealed. [no, it is not airtight, just bee tight] till they settle in. Then he’ll open the access, let them get used to where they are, and eventually treat it like any other hive.

Now I assume it is a lot more complex in Britain, but that is the best I can come up with. Keep us posted on what happens.

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:07 pm

I’m really bummed I can’t uprate comments anymore 🙁

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:11 pm

No, it’s not more complex, Subotai. A very similar process is in place. It’s just that our bees are apparently not good candidates for catch and release. Where the queen is located (in our funky old attic) makes her hard to capture.

We had a neighbor in a very similar circumstance, and they ended up having to gas the lot. We’ve been dragging our feet because that’s just above the master bedroom. I have a dreadful image of poison slowly drifting down on us for weeks.

edit to add: we’ve had the bee people out to look.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:30 pm

Bee people? From Bee world?

No! No! don’t trust them!

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:40 pm

Stoaty, you wrote that you were playing Wreck of the Old 97 on your banjo. I wonder if the bees prefer the original (1924?) version with just guitar and harmonica?

Side note: Did you know John Mellencamp recorded that song? No banjo, though. I much prefer the semi-traditional Bluegrass renditions with banjo, guitar, string bass, and a little bit of fiddle.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:46 pm

I wonder if your infestation consists of refugees from the Golgafrinchan Bee Ark? Bloody useless, they are.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: June 2, 2020, 10:54 pm

“You’re a load of useless bloody loonies!”

“Ah yes, that was it,” beamed the Captain, “that was the reason.”

Sweasy? Keep an eye peeled for a giant space goat, eh?

Comment from BJM
Time: June 3, 2020, 2:44 pm

Meanwhile at the basement of Mars

Comment from Tonycc
Time: June 3, 2020, 6:06 pm

I keep bees. It sounds like there might be a couple of things going on.

Let’s first talk about the ones who stung you. Are you sure they are honey bees stinging you? Us beeks having a saying, “honeybees make honey, wasps are assholes”. Wasps will set up in stupid places like inside or under lawn furniture. If they are honey bees, that means there might be a new colony established near where you have been playing the banjo. Either way, you need to find the wasp/bee home and get rid of it since it is too close to your play ground. You were there first, screw them.

As far as the bees in residence, you’ve talked to beeks and their advice is probably correct. Although there is a caveat in there.

To get at a hive in a residence requires something called a cut out, i.e. disassembly of the residence. You need to both get the bees and the honey. If you don’t remove their hive, scouts will find it and another colony will move back in. Even if you do seal the entrance so that doesn’t happen, the honey in there could eventually make a mess of your walls.

The caveat on their advice is that this cutout process is labor intensive and not worth the effort for someone interested in just doing this in exchange for the bees. Not to mention the liability involved of cutting apart someone else’s home. I would never even consider doing that, not worth it. A professional might consider it, but they would want to be paid cash along with keeping the bees..

There is another process that can get most of the bees out of the house. All of the potential entrances to the hive need to be found and sealed except for one. Then the bee keeper places a one way door on the remaining entrance, the bees can leave but not return. The bee keeper then places a new hive next to the entrance, one that contains a queen. This gives the homeless bees a place to move into. then the final entrance is sealed, locking in the old queen, comb and honey. I’ve never done this, just read about it.

At the end of the day, it is probably best to get a professional exterminator there. They can solve this problem with no risk to your health or property.

Don’t feel bad about getting rid of the bees. My motto about pests that try to move into my very old* house is that trespassers will be violated. 🙂

* I know, being built in 1850 is new by British standards.

Comment from OldFert
Time: June 3, 2020, 7:33 pm

Quick Henry, the Flit!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 3, 2020, 7:53 pm

Thanks for the information, Tonycc. Yes, quite sure they are honeybees – we kept them when I was a kid. And we’ve already had honey running down the walls on occasion. There would be no question of cutting up the house, though — it’s listed (protected by law).

This may be the year we are moved to do something. No further incidents today, though.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 3, 2020, 7:58 pm

The only one I’m familiar with Uncle Al is the Flatt and Scruggs version. There was also a parody version making fun of Pete Seeger for being a commie.

To be honest, I don’t hugely like the song, but there was a lick in the tab I wanted to get right 🙂

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