On a sunny Tuesday morning, I laced up my running shoes, shut the front door behind me and stepped out into the front yard to stretch. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just the chirping of birds and the slight hum of insects in flight. Then I turned back to the house to make sure the door was locked and saw this:
A bee swarm so big, the Terminix guy wouldn’t even touch it. “They’ll kill me!” he cried when he stopped by our house the next day. “I’m calling the man with the bee suit.”
Naturally, being the green advocate I am, I logged onto Facebook and updated my status with a panicked remark about being on pins and needles while the exterminators blasted my Alfred Hitchcok-esque swarm out of existence. (We all have our limits, and mine just happens to be bees).
I expected my friends to empathize with me, but instead I received a steady stream of comments about the colony collapse disorder, along with pleas to call a beekeeper for a humane removal. If you haven’t been keeping up with the honeybee crisis, this is the widespread dying off of honeybees, attributed in part to pesticides and genetically modified crops. This is bad news for the food chain and therefore humanity.
As I soon learned, a much more humane option than extermination is bee removal, which can be performed either by a professional service or by any one of many eager beekeeping hobbyists. Many beekeepers will actually do the service for free, as they need bees to sell local honey.
Here’s how it works:
- When the beekeeper starts work, you lock yourself safely in your house, especially if you’re in an area with large populations of hyper-aggressive Africanized bees.
- The beekeeper lures the bees from their hive or swarm and into a hive box, a container in which the bees can nest.
- The beekeeper will then remove any honeycomb or nest from the wall and seal any entrance holes, so it doesn’t rot and attract more bees in the future.
- Without a home or a queen to lead them, any remaining worker bees the beekeeper can’t capture will die in three days to a week (kind of sad, I know).
Voila! Bees gone, carried away to make honey in someone else’s yard. In the end, I was happy we did it the humane way and to have done my part to safeguard the ecosystem. And I was really happy not to have a massive swarm of potentially angry bees hanging off the side of my house. Phew!