Bee Story

A hive has set up residence in the back shed and with American Foul Brood disease making every bee more precious than usual, I got the bee guy in.

Gordon, the bee guy, loves bees and is obsessed with their ways, which are pretty fascinating. If one bee finds a hole in his protective suit and gets in, the rest of the swarm follow in seconds – masters of mass communication, they signal vital information to each other and move as one.

Like most things involving critters, the process has not been simple. As he was moving the hive two nights ago, the queen fell down through a gap in the wood-siding of the shed, resulting in complete bee mayhem.  The mission was abandoned and the bees went crazy, we had to lock ourselves in the house with all windows sealed for a couple of hours until they settled down.

Gordon came back last night and dismantled the side of the shed, retrieving the queen and putting her into the new hive (a portable wooden box). They all seem to have moved in there with her and tonight Gordon will come and take them out to a farm in the hills behind Sedgefield.

Dismantled shed and new portable bee home.

Dismantled shed and new portable bee home.


5 Responses to “Bee Story”

  1. 1 shoreacres September 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I really don’t know much about bees, except that they play a critical role in pollination and are threatened – somewhat mysteriously, if I read it right. I’ve seen a remarkble number of “bee postings” recently – is there a bee “season”? Do they move from one place to another by seasons, or only on impulse?

    And I’m curious about this – how do you tell the queen from her subjects? Is it size? Markings? Does she wear a little tiara or a hat that matches her outfit?

    At least this is all good news – the bees were safely moved, and you didn’t suffer any ill effects. Bet you moved as fast as the bees, though!

    • 2 Jeannine September 2, 2009 at 9:21 am

      The tiara is a complete giveaway, but just in case it’s in for buffing, you can spot the queen by her noticeably longer abdomen. How you do this with 5000 angry bees swarming is a mystery to me.

      FYI – a well-mated and well-fed queen of quality stock can lay about 2,000 eggs per day during the spring build-up — more than her own bodyweight in eggs every day. She is continuously surrounded by worker bees who meet her every need, giving her food and disposing of her waste.

      If you’re seeing a lot of bee stories it’s probably because the population is being decimated as scientists struggle to find out why wild honey bees are dying each year at an alarming rate.

      The phenomena is not only occurring in the United States, where beekeepers have reported up to 30-90 percent of their hives disappearing each season since 2006.

      Britain is also reporting a loss of honey bees. Last year that country reported it lost around 19.2 percent of honey bee colonies over the winter of 2009, which is double the acceptable level, according to researchers there.

      In China, bee numbers have declined so much that farmers in some areas use feathers to collect and deposit pollen.

      In South Africa we have the disease, American Foul Brood, which is impacting badly on hives, especially in the Western Cape where I live.

      Bottom line – don’t kill bees. In Britain, the government has even responded by calling on every suburban and rural home- owner to establish a hive on their property!

  2. 3 octobia September 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    You’ve got a terrific blog, and I’m so glad I came across it. I’ll be back!


  3. 4 shoreacres September 8, 2009 at 1:33 am

    My Cape Honeysuckle suddenly have started putting on blooms – probably because our temperatures have moderated a bit.

    And today – I had A bee. I’m sure there are others, but I gave him a big smile and an “attaboy” and told him he and his friends always are welcome 😉

  4. 5 Lisa September 9, 2009 at 8:50 am

    And studies in the Far East have shown that cellphone radiation completely confuses bees. Sensitive little creatures.

    By the way, speaking of bee guys… if you’re a fan of honey (I’m a honey fiend) and ever anywhere near Cape Town on a weekend, go to the Porter Market. There’s a bee guy that sells pretty much the most amazing honey in the world, raw, untreated unheated and separated according to the plants that the bees predominantly used for pollen. The Eucalyptus Black Iron Bark honey is something I think I could commit crimes for.

    mmmm. . . sounds divine Lisa, will put on my list of 50 things to do!

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