|A warning for the gardeners...|
Apparently bees don’t speak English, because despite our kindest request for them to move on, they did not. Time to call in the big guns, or in this case, the Backwards Beekepers. I found them online after a quick Google search, “a group of organic, treatment-free beekeepers in Los Angeles.” They’re "backwards", they say, because they rely on observation and natural practices to keep their bees thriving rather than pesticides or chemicals of any kind. Their blog also offered a “bee rescue hotline,” which we rang right up. We needed the bees to go before they built a hive and laid eggs – that’s when they would become aggressive – but we didn’t want to kill them in the process, so this seemed like the perfect solution. Despite bee-ing (ha, ha) a little annoyed that I had to spend $60 to get rid of these guys, I was completely fascinated and excited to watch the whole process (from behind the kitchen screen door of course!)
Two hours after calling, Vincent of Vee’s Bees arrived at our door. After investigating the bees he determined that they most likely were not going to relocate and had to be removed. First, he sprayed them with sugar water to give them some nourishment and make them as calm as possible. Then he was back out to his truck to assemble the box he would collect them in and to put on his beekeeper suit (this is what I had been waiting for!)
Hat, smock and gloves donned (on the hottest day on record in LA, mind you) Vincent made his way back to the tree and began cutting away the branches to get to the swarm. After each branch he snipped he had to wait about 5-10 minutes to let the bees calm back down.
We interviewed him from the kitchen while we watched and found out that yes, these were likely Africanized bees, that there was a queen in the center that they were all protecting, and that he estimated our swarm held about 10,000 bees. He guessed that they probably came from another hive that had become overcrowded.
When Vincent finally snipped the branch that held the swarm, most fell into the box below, while others fell like little pebbles onto the concrete ground. He was confident that the queen was in the box, because most of the bees began following her in there.
He waited about 10 minutes for the rest to make their way, and then started sucking up the stragglers with a vaccuum (a bunch had clustered on the edge of our recycling can, which he assumed the queen had left her scent on at some point.) After that it was time to pack up and go.
The box was closed and taped shut, and Vincent told us that any remaining bees would be gone within the next few hours….and they were!
I plan to call Vincent and order some of his honey by mail so we can have a little memento to remember this by. Our very first swarm of bees – what a milestone!