Friday, March 23, 2012

Know Your Local Bees: A Cautionary Tale, Episode II, Part 2

When we last left this Cautionary Tale, a voice was heard saying, "If you'd have asked me, I'd have told you those bees have been there three or four years." Fortunately, Part 2 of this episode has a happy ending. (Whew!)

Just down the road from the swarm/tear-out/pesticide debacle is a 100+ year old house surrounded by all kinds of trees and plants.

In the 100+ year old house lives a much younger-than-that lady, who is a lover of bees. She kept about 15 hives up until about 2000-2001, as best she can recall. Her name is Hattie. I think she is one of those people who loves the bees, but hates the honey harvesting process. It's work, people.

She gave Mark some old bee boxes, which he cut down and repurposed into a swarm trap. He's been reading Swarm Traps and Bait Hives by McCartney Taylor, who blogs about beekeeping at Learning Beekeeping. From that book, he's refined his approach.

On Saturday, after we left the Other House, we stopped by Hattie's to set up a swarm trap.
She has a couple of colonies in old equipment, but she's ready for Mark to take over their management. "I don't really manage them, they're just swarms that come in and go out," she said.

The metal on the entrance discourages mice and birds from going in, but allows bees.

I saw her pan with sticks where she pours out honey every day for the bees. She likes to watch where the bees fly off to after they visit her honey dish.

In theory, the swarm will come in and build on the frames but have a cavity big enough to convince them to stay.
"If you sit in a chair, you can see them go over into the woods, or over that way," she said, pointing toward the neighbors. She could name several neighbors who had bees in various parts of their houses or barns (not the best places for bees!). Including the lady who had a "swarm" in the ash box of her fireplace . . .

I bet they didn't know that their bees had likely originated at Hattie's, swarms from her colonies!

She talked about having Mark set up a bee yard there at her place -- not for her to manage, but so that she could watch them make honey for us. Today he got a call that she'd reconsidered -- the rain had made things too boggy, and she'd be tempted to fool with them more than she should.
The trap is on her front porch, where she can keep an eye on it.

She still wants him to take over the colonies she has, and she wants to have a swarm trap to watch, she can catch us some bees.

She showed us bee tree near her driveway -- the hole is low to the ground, so Mark may try to trap them out. She took us to the neighbors' house, but the bees have been in her eaves for years, and it looks impossible to trap them out. One of her dogs kept flopping down on its back by my feet, begging to be rubbed. It was pretty funny. 

When we finished, I was famished, so we stopped at Pop's Barbecue on Hwy. 45. Delicious brisket. If you're ever out in Columbus and want a tasty meal, Pop has a steak special -- 2 ribeyes for $30 with baked potato and salad. And Delores makes a mean hot fudge cake. But really, the brisket rocks, so get that.

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