Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bees in the Bin

There was some drama in the still-nascent organic garden this week.

I noticed lots of bees going into my compost bin on Tuesday. After dusk, when no bees were in evidence, my son lifted the lid (while I watched from a safe distance). Sure enough, there was a giant ball-o'bees clinging to the underside. I screamed and ran for the garage, and he dropped the lid and followed close on my heels.

For the next two days, we steered clear of that part of our yard - not easy to do since that's where our trash cans are stored.

April and May is bee swarm season, I learned, so rogue bees are not unusual (although it never happened to us before). But what to do?

If I weren't such a chicken, I would've bought a bee box and kept them myself. I love honey, but I wrote an article on killer bees once and the horror stories have never left me.

So I called L.A. County Vector Control and found out they remove bees for free. The bad news is that they have a waiting list several months long.

Then I called an exterminator to come poison my pests. But I started to get kind of fond of the little critters. It felt like a shame to kill them, especially since so many hives are dying off due to a true pest called varroa mite.

My friend Donnie Dale came to the rescue when he remembered that a local beekeeping group had recently been featured in the L.A. Times

A few minutes of Google magic and I came across Kirk Anderson, of the Backwards Beekeepers.

Kirk was all set to come out and find a new home for my buzzy friends. Then late this afternoon I noticed that there weren't many bees around the compost bin. My son flipped the lid with a shovel and - voila! They had flown the coop, leaving just a few pieces of honeycomb behind.

Apparently they found a better site for their hive. I'm relieved, but also a little sad. I only wish they'd left us some honey as a parting gift.


  1. I'm glad that the bees made a bee-line out of your yard and that you didn't have to resort to extermination.

    That comb they left behind is beautiful.

  2. Yeah, I couldn't have exterminated them. They're such interesting critters and they do a lot of good in the garden.

    At least I know who to call if it happens again!

  3. Another good resource is Bee Specialists. They try to relocate hives when possible. Nice guys, too.

  4. I'm glad you mention Bee Specialists, Paula. I got another resource this morning when a honey producer from the farmer's market emailed me (I had queried them for a solution). They're called KlausesBees.

    They recommend a guy named David Cain on their website. He does live bee removal and also can remove wasps and yellow jackets.