Setting free the bees

BeekeeperThis is the second hive of bees that has chosen to make my yard their home. The first had been living in an enormous fallen Live Oak tree (although it wasn’t fallen when they moved in…). I was able to have that hive relocated. They guy who moved it said they were, in fact, Africanized bees.

I noticed this second hive in another Live Oak several months ago, while there was a small, wiry, brave man crawling up my steeply-pitched roof to get at another tree that needed attention. He pissed off the bees when he was using the branch for leverage. I could hear the buzzing all the way from the porch. I called the same bee guy, who told me we couldn’t move this hive without losing most of the Live Oak. Lose a 300-year-old (at least) Live Oak or kill the bees? Not a hard decision. The bees would have to go.

So Blake came out and give me an education in bees. These were not Africanized bees, nor were the previous denizens. How did he know? Apparently the fact that I had not been swarmed when slamming the door/mowing the lawn/yelling for the dogs was enough to convince him. These were run of the mill honey bees.

I also learned what happened one morning a couple of years ago, amidst several meetings with the first bee guy regarding my hive. I had assumed this event was related to the bees in my yard.

I walked out to my car one morning to find it carpeted with bees. My car is off-white. There was barely a hint of white showing anywhere on the top or the hood — the bees were solidly packed. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on. Had these bees come to die on my car for some reason? Then, as I got closer, I realized they were moving. Barely, but they were moving. So I stood there staring at the 1000s of lethargic bees covering my vehicle, wondering what to do. I needed to leave. I had a brief twinge of guilt at the idea that I may kill them by taking them on the road, but it didn’t last long. I left. They scattered.

Blake filled me in. Apparently swarms of bees stop en masse to sleep. It happened not long ago to some guy downtown – he came out to find his parked car covered with sluggish bees, and called the cops. The cars surrounding his were clean. Again, it was a sleeping hive.

Is Blake pulling my leg? I did a very quick search, and found this brief description of sleeping bees, but found nothing about resting swarms. I’d think if sleeping swarms were a common occurrence, we’d hear of this more often. Anybody have any info?

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