Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Husband the bee hero....

Last week I got a call from a friend that they had cut down an old tree in her neighbors yard.  I had seen this tree many times before, brought to my attention because of the active bee hive thriving in this majestic, gnarled old tree. It stood steadfast on the edge of the neighbor's property, it's heavy old limbs draped over my friends driveway.  The fear was that the tree would give way and crush my friend's car or worse, the house. 
My friend said the tree had been cut down and I had to come to see all the bees and the ions of honey comb.  That it was amazing,  I am sure she has no idea the maelstrom of emotions this set off. Coming on the heels of bad new about my father's health and too little sleep after a late night shift I could not hold back the tears.  I hung up the phone and sobbed.  I cried for those beautiful bees, whose lives had been turned on end with a simple cut of the saw.  How honeybees  have been assaulted from every angle, from pesticides, to genetically modified plants, to habitat loss.  And while I was at it, I cried for that beautiful old tree, and for the squirrels and birds who had made it their home.   
This was something I could never appreciate.
Since it was almost December, it seemed their fate was sealed. The neighbors had tried to get a professional to come and see if they could save the hive, but it seemed that was not going to pan out. Although the temperatures had been unseasonably warm, there was no nectar flow or pollen to be had.  If the comb was damaged, as it sounded like it certainly was, there was not much to be done.  I tried in vain not to think about the bees and I steered clear of that block when driving or walking my dogs.  
Two days later, my friend called again to say the bees were flying and she was wondering of there was anything we could do to help them. I stopped my pity party and went into action. I called several people who are known in the Denver area to rescue bees. As much as I hated to do it, I had to go take a look to see what we were dealing with before we could help.

This piece of log was by the street, the bees were very active and agitated and many passerbys were agitated too.  Since the all the pieces of the hive were not together the hive was split and one section must have been without a queen. The comb was damaged but still intact in many areas.

Here is the section on the neighbors yard. Also many bees were flying about in disarray.
The people whose tree this was were none too happy about the amount of bee activity in their yard, but after some finagling on my part, (a few promises to help clear the bees away in Spring if they are lucky enough to make it through the winter) they agreed to some simple measures to try and save the hive.
I again consulted some bee experts, it seemed the only solution was to put the pieces of trunk back together, insulate and cover and hope for a mild winter.  The question how to get the logs back together.  The logs were way too heavy and the bees way to irritated for me to try and move alone.
It was Friday afternoon when I called my husband at work. Instead of inviting him out for a romantic dinner, or cozy date night, I asked him for help moving a 300 lb log full of angry bees in the total dark.  Did he hang up on me or tell me I was crazy?  
No he did not!  He left work early, purchased a large peice of R 30 insulation and a large tarp, and headed home He picked up his dolly and we headed over to the house under the cover of darkness.  Since the temperatures had dropped, very few bees were flying. He fastened the single log to his dolly and deftly moved it up and fitted it snugly with the other large piece of log.  
We cover up most of the logs with insulation and the tarp, leaving a nice opening for them to come and go     
Now we leave those industrious girls to their Sisyphean task and hope mother nature is on their side.