Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Bees Knees

It was a Saturday morning like many others. The hubby was sitting at the kitchen counter, drinking coffee and staring out the window. The kids were slurping down Cheerios and cracking each other up with their milk mustaches. I was in the shower, savoring the secondary adult presence that allowed me to take a shower in the first place. My hubby poked his head in the bathroom and told me that if I should wander out the front door to do so slowly and quietly and not to wear perfume. Huh? What kind of weirdo request is that?

 When he meandered down the drive to fetch the paper, my dear husband noticed a large, vibrating mass perched in the lower branches of our mesquite tree. That quivering bundle turned out to be a very large swarm of bees. Thousands of bees. And though seeing this interesting phenomena up close and personal is very cool, I'm not exactly crazy about thousands of bees setting up shop in my front yard. We moved the cars to the far side of the driveway, banned all foot traffic along the front path, warned our neighbors in case anyone had allergies and then, per our city webpage's advice, we called the fire department.

The swarm measures almost a foot and a half in length!
The valley area actually has quite the bee problem. Some genius introduced African Honey Bees into our general population some time ago and as a result of crossbreeding, many of our local bees are prone to aggressive attacks. The city set up a page to report such hives so that they can be removed for the safety of the public. The fire department came and assessed the situation and concluded that our winged visitors were most likely an Africanized species but that they would move on in a few days time. They said swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony and that it provides a mechanism that allows the colony to reproduce itself. During the swarm cycle, the bee's only concern is to keep the queen happy until she's rested enough to move on and therefore, are generally non-aggressive during this time. However, they warned, if the colony becomes aggressive or doesn't move on within three to four days, it's time to call a bee removal service.

Buzzing Bees

Why MY tree bees?
I was crossing fingers and toes that the little buggers would just rest up and move on by themselves. Killing thousands of bees, even mean Africanized killer bees, make me feel nothing but guilty since bee populations are steadily declining around the world. Many of the crops we depend on need bees to pollinate them. If plants aren't pollinated, they don't grow. And if plants don't grow, we don't have food. If we don't have food...well, you get the picture.

We called a local bee keeper and he assured us that the fire department was correct. Arizona's bee population has been severely "contaminated" and most swarms are scary, invasive, honey bee killing, bees. If for some reason the swarm doesn't leave, they will start to build their new home in my tree. As they come out of the swarming stage and start building combs, they will become dominant and aggressive toward any "threat" in their home area.

When we reached the 48 hour mark and there was still a ball 'o bees in the tree, we decided it would be safest  to have the bees removed. Watching the bee keeper spray the nest was amazing. We watched (from inside of course) and I could not believe how many bees there were! They bombarded his bee suit in protest and threw themselves at our windows. As terrible as I felt about being a chemical using bee killer, I'm glad we called when we did. They were starting to build combs which meant they had planned on staying.

The keeper at work.  Photo taken from the safety of our home office!
I'm sorry little killer bees. I'm sorry I annhilated your colony. But just like you, I have to make sure my family is safe from harm. Having an angry mob of killer bees living by my front door is just NOT conducive to ensuring my family's safety. If any of you survived, fly off and tell your cousins, the sweet little forager bees, that they are welcome in my garden any time. But you and your ferocious little friends better stay away. I'm not afraid to call in the cavalry...

1 comment:

  1. Yikes! I am very fond of bees and all the hard work they do for us but i would NOT want that mass in the tree outside my house!

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