This story is about something a little more recent with ties to the past. I will start with the memory I have of my grandmother’s house. She had a tall, corner cupboard that nearly reached to touch her twelve foot ceiling. The ceiling was made of tongue and groove wood. The electric ran across the ceiling separated by white ceramic insulators. The wires terminated with a single light bulb that hung down in the center of the room.
In the cupboard she always kept a saucer honey in a honey comb. I can remember when she got a new delivery of honey. It came in a six by six by three inch box. It was mostly green, but had white and red lettering. On the front of the box was a cellophane window and by looking I could see the hexagonal wax structure that the bees had built to hold the honey.
Now to recent history, I had honey bees settle in the hollow of an aspen tree at the edge of my property. How long I am not sure, but I noticed them this spring. They didn’t bother me and I didn’t bother them, sort of a mutual truce. I had thought initially that they were the yellow jackets that had attacked me several years before.
After several of the storms ad wind that came through, the aspen started to lean. Each wind storm caused the tree to lean a bit more. I was worried. Was the tree going to fall out onto the road? Would the tree fall on me as I mowed? If I got someone in to cut the tree would he get injured by the bees? I was in a quandary. What should I do?
I decided I would post on Craig’s List Pittsburgh for “Bee keepers: Free Bees.” I received several e-notes of interest and several sites where I might find help. My daughter posted pictures of the tree hive on Face Book. I got a call from someone who’d seen the posts and came right away to evaluate. The woman who responded was the scout. (She is also in training for the apiary business.) She evaluated her boss and he came right away. When the rope I had on hand was not strong enough to pull the tree down, he told me that he would be back in the morning to cut down the tree (thank you) and harvest the bees. The aspen branches were leaning against a small maple.
He and the assistant, with two assistants came back at eight a.m. and went to work. Using an anchored come-along they moved the tree a bit but it still wouldn’t fall. One of the men climbed into a bee suit and began cutting the base of the tree slowly with much buzzing of the saw and cracking of wood, the tree fell, taking the small maple with it. The tree was down without anyone getting hurt.
The man with the saw made several more cuts from above where the top of the hive was thought to be, until the hollow and the first part of the honeycomb could be seen. The hive was inside of an approximate five foot section. The bee keepers began extracting the honeycomb and bees looking for the queen. Once they found the queen, they would relocate her inside the hive box they had brought with them. They couldn’t get to the bees very well inside, so they cut the length of the log on both sides to split the log in half. Now they had access to all of the bees.
Surprise! Surprise, the hive was bigger than expected. They were able to remove four queens, one went into the new hive box and the others were taken with them to establish new colonies. I gave them permission to keep a hive on my property. My plot of land has farm fields on three sides.
While they were collecting the bees, the bees weren’t happy at all. I was about twenty-five feet from the hive and they tagged me, four times on the ankles and once between the eyes on the bridge of my nose. My nose is sore even with aspirin and Benadryl. I don’t plan on working outside for the rest of the day. My ankles are swollen even with Benadryl and aspirin.