Saturday, January 22, 2011

Capturing a Swarm

At the beekeepers meeting last week, I put my name on the swarm removal list. This means that when someone finds that a swarm of honey bees has formed itself into a gigantic ball of hand holding insects in a low hanging limb of a tree in their yard, the extension service might call me to come and get it. I come out and get free bees, the homeowner gets the bees off their tree, and the bees keep from getting killed. Everybody wins. I was pumped, no doubt. But then I got pessimistic.

What if the swarm is 40 feet up in a tree?

What if the homeowner is some unreasonable pain in the a** that says mean things to me like that lady that I tried to change a tire for who ended up yelling at me because her husband had removed the spare tire from her minivan?

What if I fall off a ladder?

What if I end up removing my area's first swarm of Africanized honey bees and get stung so many times that I throw up?

I won't lie. It had me up nights.

A wise military man or a famous ninja once said something like, "In times of intense stress, we usually fall back on our lowest level of training", and since wrangling a kickball sized orb of bees out of a tree qualifies as an intense situation, I figured some training was in order. It's kind of hard to schedule a scrimmage for catching a swarm of bees. I mean, it's either game time or it's not. So my only course of action was to hunt down some swarm catching videos. The video below is the first one I happened upon. I noticed right away that the overwhelming majority of this guy's ladder had absolutely no support. Envisioning falling through the roof of the building below as one of the top 10 ways I could die, didn't do much to ease my anxiety, although, I did learn a new use for a bucket and pool cleaning pole.

Next I resorted to ordering a DVD from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm called Free Bees for You. The video tracked the escapades of 4 brothers, or maybe it was 3, who had been "hunting" bees for many years by seeking out a feral colony of bees in a tree (not a limb, but INSIDE the tree trunk), cutting down the tree, then dissecting said colony of bees from said tree... WITH A CHAINSAW! None of these old timers wore a veil or anything; just bib overalls and chainsaws. As I watched them being eviscerated about the face and head by an angry colony of honey bees who were having their home demolished by a CHAINSAW I thought, "I don't need free bees this bad".

So here I am, with my name on a list and doubtful of my skills in capturing a swarm of bees. I've found a few informative videos here and there, but it looks like I'm just going to have to jump in and get some on the job training. Hopefully, my fears won't be realized and I'll increase my colonies while managing to stay in one piece. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. I really like how you incorporate pictures into your post to complete the story you are telling. I makes for great reading.