I can not thank the bee community enough for all the offers of help, information, and “I can’t help right now but let me reach out to a friend” action that came our way yesterday. Truly, bee people are amazing!
The short story is that Tim went to work on the Gainesville house on Friday, and when going into the back yard, was swarmed by bees. A little unexpected, since that’s never happened before! We had some issues with wood-boring, carpenter bees there a while ago (and by “issues” I mean, a few solitary bees showed up on the back porch and really liked some wood of the porch roof and we pretty much left them alone, because bees) and of course it’s Florida so there are always mud-daubers (which, by the way, did you know they eat spiders? There’s one type of mud-dauber that almost exclusively only eats brown and black widows. I KNOW!), but the ones at the house on Friday seemed like a full-on swarm of angry bees.
He saw they seemed to be getting into the house via a hole in the wall near the electrical panel, so he blocked off that hole and went to run errands. When he came back, there were a few in the house, but not many… most were clumped around the electrical panel just hanging out. He was hoping that’s where the Queen was – outside the house – and not knowing what to do we decided to ask the Facebooks. We thought they might be honey bees, since they had fuzzy abdomens, but while beekeeping is on our list of things we’re interested in, we don’t know much and aren’t ready to start keeping, like, this weekend.
The Facebooks were alternately helpful (“make this post public and I’ll share it with some other bee friends”) and not helpful (it is the Internet, after all, you have to expect both sides of the coin) but nothing really came of anything on Friday night. Places we were given numbers to were closed for the weekend – isn’t that always the case?! Answers to my “is this a honey bee? I think it’s a honey bee” were met with answers that ranged from “yep, it’s a honey bee” to “nuke it from space, it’s the only way to be sure.”
So I messaged this amazing knitter/spinner and beekeeper I follow on Instagram, Alysania (and you should check out her photos for amazing bee videos and information, and also really pretty pictures of whiskey and cheese – she is lucky she doesn’t live anywhere near me because I would totally be Creepy Wanna-Hang-Out-All-The-Time Girl). She verified it was a honey bee (side note: the reason I thought it was is because she takes such great close-up pictures of bees that I was pretty sure the picture Tim sent me looked a lot like what I’d seen on her Instagram feed) and so we knew that rescue and relocation had to be at the top of the list — NOT extermination. Nobody in their right mind would exterminate a hive of honey bees.
So Saturday morning Tim went back to the house to see what the status of inside vs. outside bees was. There were more inside, so he opened a window in the back, near where most of the bees were calmly congregating by the electrical panel outside. Hoping that’s where the Queen still was, and that she hadn’t worked her way into the concrete block of the house, he left to go have lunch.
Meanwhile I stayed on the Facebooks, giving bee updates, and soliciting help. And y’all! Everyone was SO helpful!!! Through a family member of my friend Sam, a guy named Charlie was able to come out and take care of the bees (mad props also to Lisa, Kim, Cheryl, and Jim, who also offered to come if Charlie couldn’t make it or couldn’t get at the Queen). I did not know I knew so many people who are or know beekeepers, and y’all, they are just as – or even more so – generous with their knowledge and time as knitters are! People I didn’t even know were messaging me their phone numbers. Nobody wanted the bees to be exterminated – including Tim and I – and we are so very glad that this ended in the win/win situation of no bees for us and a new hive for Charlie.
Charlie smoked the bees to relax them, dropped them all into what I now know is called a nuc – making sure to get the Queen – and took them all home with him. He knew just what to do to relax them, feed them, make them comfortable, and help them adjust to their new home… and Tim and I are so glad they’ll be going on and being good little worker sisters for generations to come.
And that is how Tim got no work done on the house this weekend, but we did save the bees.