Pablo Picasso once said… “I am always doing that which I cannot do… in order that I may learn how to do it”. Not only our “Wild at Heart Farmgirl” motto, lately it feels like I live it out day by day.
I love bees, my neighbor Rob loves bees, and my husband loves felling trees. How three people living within 100 feet of each other again unite because of their unique passions is mind boggling. Guess it’s lucky for the colony of bees living in that old Walnut tree in our small neighborhood. It's certainly lucky for me to have embarked on such an incredible experience. Are we professional bee removal experts??? Hardly. Just passionate about bees… and trees.
We certainly provided entertainment for our small community that week. After felling the tree my hubby ran his saw through parts of the tree guessing where the bees would be. Bingo...he felled it just at the top of the cavity where the colony had made their home.
I couldn’t see inside as the combs all lined up filling the hollow. Blindly reaching down into the hole led only by instinct I tried to feel where each comb began and ended, cutting them away from each other and the inside of the tree. As we pulled them out we were astonished at their size. We cut the combs to fit into the frames and rubber banded them in, the bees would repair them. One after another after another we filled frames until an entire super had been filled sending my friend down the street searching for another one. By the end of the day we had filled two supers and were utterly exhausted.
I was sure we had the queen in the new hive as most of the bees were orienting themselves to their new home, but naturally not all the bees wanted to live in their new home challenging us to again try things we had only read about to save them all. Rob kept saying “Let the bees do the work for you”, wisdom passed on from a seasoned beekeeper friend and it challenged us to be patient. Rob suggested trying a “trap out”, again something we had only read about. Making a wire cone placing the large end over the entrance to the hive and the other end narrowly funneling onto the hive entrance, the bees will walk out of the hive through the cone but cannot figure out how to get back in. They end up right at the entrance of the new hive and because they can’t return to the old hive they just hang out there and eventually figure it out and submit to their their man made home. In several days about 98% of them figured it out… maybe even 99%.
After moving them to my daughter’s house (another new experience) they came home to Garden Farms two weeks later where they are happily living in my garden. The area is familiar to them and they know where to forage. Some of them were caught investigating their old tree cavity but seemed to return home. One of the beautiful slabs to that tree now sits on it’s side with small amounts of comb still attached to the cavity as a memorial to the awesome blessing the whole experience was for the three of us and our neighbors. Thank you Joyceanna… it is beautiful.