Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Saturday afternoon I noticed a swarm of bees had settled into the ramp in the sheep pen. The ramp is a home-made structure that was passed on to us when Carli started doing 4-H. It's purpose was to help build the muscles on the sheep in an easy way: they have to stand on the ramp in order to get their grain.

I wasn't too concerned at first with the bees. Two years ago we had a swarm settle in our olive tree by the driveway, which also happens to be right next to the garage. When we called a few places to check on removal we were told they charge for this service. When we balked at the fee (over $100!!!) they told us more than likely the bees were just settling for the night and would be gone within 24 hours. They don't like the openness of the branch they were hanging on, we were told. It was just a place to overnight until they could continue their quest for an acceptable new place to build a hive.

Sure enough, by the end of the next day the bees had decided to move on.

Not so with these bees. They seem to have found what they like: a space with a small opening for them to get in and out of, with a roomy enclosed interior. They've been here since Saturday afternoon and I don't think they want to leave.

At first it wasn't too bad. I could get within two feet of the bees before my nerve failed me and I backed away. They didn't seem too upset with my proximity.

They were still there on Sunday. We started entertaining fantasies of having our own honey. They were still there on Monday. Monday evening my husband went to sit on the back patio, which is right next to the sheep pen underneath the mimosa trees. I had some things to finish up in the kitchen before I could go out and join him.

But five minutes later he came in and declared the bees were getting a bit aggressive. They had been divebombing him while he sat on the patio, which doesn't make for a relaxing time.

About an hour later when I went out to feed I saw Baby acting very strangely. She was jerking her head and hopping around. Then she furiously went to scratch her face with her back leg. I think a bee must have been stinging her face right then.

It's time for the bees to go.

You would think with all the panicky reports of dying, missing, and disappearing honeybees, it wouldn't be so hard to find someone to come and get them. For free. I threatened one guy with "I don't want to pay to have them removed. I'll just have to kill them then," hoping he'd get the hint. He didn't. He told me, "Well, just be careful then."

I called several places this morning and they all insist on a fee. Hey, shouldn't I be getting a "finder's fee"? You know the pest services are going to collect the bees, for a fee, then turn around and sell them to a bee keeper, for a fee. And even an apiary (not a pest service, a bee keeper) wanted to charge. It's not fair.

It's also not fair to the bees that I'm going to have to exterminate them tonight under the cover of darkness.

I'm not happy about having to do this, but I don't relish the thought of me and mine being stung. C'est la vie?

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