Who are the Heroes?
People often thank me for saving the bees. I want to thank the people who invited me into their world to help them save the bees.
I say they are the Hero. Not me. Thank you all for hiring me to help save the bees for you. The people that take their time and efforts to hire a bee professional to relocate honey bee colonies (instead of exterminating them ) are the real Heroes.
A key component for this to happen is education about honey bees. Workshops and spending volunteer time with kids is one of my favorite ways to get the word out that we should be good honey bee care takers. I enjoy helping school children to understand that bees are not scary or dangerous (in areas where we don't have Africanized Honey Bees) and provide pollination for many wonderful fruits and vegetables that we enjoy eating. It is amazing to see the kids come alive with stories about their experiences with bees in their gardens.
The YMCA in San Rafael needed a new roof....but the job involved working around a honey bee hive that had been living in one of the walls above the roof. This is where I have to give credit to Dustin Lewis (with the YMCA) for being proactive in saving the bees. He led the effort to remove the bees instead of exterminating them, and that's how I got the call. Also thanks are in order to the roofing crew and George Timmons with Waterproofing Associates for helping load my equipment on the roof. It was a group effort and the bees were successfully relocated to a new home.
During March and April beekeeping in Marin County (for those who have time to chase bees) is fast paced and requires that you keep your beekeeping suit with you at all times. You never know when a swarm will show up in your neighborhood, at the local school yard or even at the grocery store parking lot.
If the swarms aren't caught they end up in a tree or a building (sometimes a beehive too). Nobody really minds the tree solution too much, just leave them bee. But, beehives in a wall, in a chimney or in an attic are for the most part not where people want bees. If this happens the job of removal becomes a "structural extraction". Meaning removal by taking the structure apart to get to the bees.
Now the real fun begins...........
If the bees have only been in their new home for short time, have not had time to build much comb or save honey, the job is relatively straight forward. Open the wall or ceiling and remove the bees. Put the wall or ceiling back where you found it.
However, a hive that has been settled for a year or more will have a lot of sticky honey and a generous amount of comb to be removed. Working on a hive that is overhead means honey dripping, on everything, comb falling out of the cavity and a general calamity with hive parts stuck to everything. Opening a wall is a little better, but it is hard to avoid the dripping honey when you finally get to that part of the hive. It just is what it is, sticky and dripping. But, it's fun!