Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alert: Swarm in the Area

The other day when I was watering the blueberries on the hill, I noticed that one of the bushes was a-buzz with bees. Dave suspected that it was a swarm and later we noticed that the bees in this swarm were trying to 'break in' to one of our hives. "Our" bees managed to hold them off.

Yesterday, Dave and I actually saw a swarm of bees attached to a bush on the hill. Dave called a member of the Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association to see if anyone wanted a swarm to fill an empty hive. Brad said he would pick it up for Steve Gentry, a local beekeeper who manages over 100 beehives around town. Steve is all into bees and beeswax products. He sells his honey for $9 a pound at the produce store and farmer's markets.

Diane, a friend, stopped by to visit at the same time Brad arrived to remove our swarm. It was a good thing she was here too as we needed something for this guy to transport the swarm in. She happened to have an empty 5 gallon paint bucket in her trunk that she was taking to the dump.

Dave told Brad that we did not want to pay the usual $50 swarm removal fee. If no one wanted the swarm, we would let it be and eventually it would leave on its own. Dave and Diane went to Ace Hardware to pick up paint straining cloth. This is breathable material with a rubber band that fits perfectly over the 5 gallon bucket. Brad donned Dave's bee suit – a tight fit as he is a huge guy, Dave cut the limb, and the guy lifted the swarm into the bucket. All done. If we had had an extra bee hive we could have adopted the swarm ourselves.

Diane left shortly after the excitement was over and Patrick, our neighbor, came down to find out what we were doing. He was fascinated by the 'humming' bucket and the warmth the bees had generated in such a short time in the bucket. It is just our luck – this is the first swarm we have seen in our area and we cannot keep it because we don’t have an empty hive.

Number of bee stings - 1. Dave and I will need to invest in different gloves as the ones we loaned to Brad are not bee proof. Brad has been stung before and did not make a big deal about it.

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