On a Friday evening after work my husband and I were checking out the newest additions to our vegetable garden. He was just commenting on how prolific everything was this year when I felt a poke on the back of my neck. I reached up instinctively to brush what I thought was a eucalyptus leaf away when instead a bumble bee fell to the ground. I exclaimed to Evan “I just got stung by a bee!” and his eyes went to the ground to where the bee had landed. But the perpetrator was not alone. There on the ground were about ten others crawling about. Evan looked up and an expletive escaped his mouth. There on a branch of our favorite eucalyptus tree were thousands of bees!
Immediately we backed up out of the garden, to watch from a distance, as the bees swarmed about the branch. We could see no hive, just lots of bees. We went inside and Evan went to work finding a bee keeper who might be able to remove them, since we decided that that was a much better option than extermination. He had no luck reaching anyone on a Friday night, so he left some messages and we hoped that someone would contact us back.
Saturday morning we went out to check on our new tenants and sure enough, they were still there. Apparently, when a colony gets too large, some of the bees leave to “scout out” a good location to set up another community. Our tree, being in a good neighborhood, with a reliable food and water source, filled the bill. Location, location, location.
Around 10am we received a call from Emily of AZ Queen Bee. She explained that she had hives north of us and would be willing to come and extract the bees for a nominal charge.
An hour later she was suited up and climbing the ladder to tackle the colony head-on. She had this box hooked up to a vacuum hose so that she could actually vacuum up the bees into the box where they would remain for transport. The whole thing took a matter of minutes and she estimated that there were between 5,000 and 10,000 bees in all.
She brought the buzzing, screened-in box over for us to look into. As we watched the bees adjusting to their new condo, some bees that were left behind were trying to figure out a way back to their friends. Emily explained that some would remain around for a few days, and then head off in search of a new home. She also shared with us some other bee information, like one worker bee produces about one large drop of honey in her lifetime and that the bees in our state have not been hit by the devastating colony collapse as in other parts of the country.
The rest of the day we would see a few bees here and there and I felt bad that they didn’t get to travel up north with the rest of the group. Hopefully they will find some other bees and start the process all over again. Only this time, not in my tree!