The entrance to this hive at the Beverly Carol – a historic home in the downtown area of Vicksburg, was high on the exterior wall – right at the corner of the building. Below the entrance was a three-and-a-half story drop.
|The bees are somewhere near the top. I can’t even look.|
It was not the sort of job I was looking forward to.
Immediately, I looked for alternative solutions. After a little while of trying to figure out my options of ladders and scaffolding, I asked the owner if I could see inside.
The location interior to the hive is a laundry room, and one that is a later addition to the lovely 1910 house, now turned into a B&B. Well, maybe a B&B&B….
It appears that a second-story balcony was enclosed, siding put on the outside, and tongue-and-groove flooring used as paneling for the walls. Pretty solid.
But the proximity to the hive meant that it would be a perfect way to get at the hive without facing a three-story drop. I provided Mrs. Jenkins with my estimate – the lowest amount that I charge for removals – based on the expected effort to remove a small infestation in a small corner of the building from the inside.
|How hard can it be?|
I know better than to ever say those words out loud. Nothing is EVER easy peasy when it comes to bees. And speaking the words means that the task is immediately more difficult than you can manage.
So I sealed the room with plastic sheeting – to keep the bees from going out the door and into the house – and got started.
Getting started is often the hardest for me. I’m not sure what it is – might just be the spankings I got as a kid – but I just don’t want to damage anything.
After finally breaking loose the corner molding, I was able to open the hive. Just the corner. And some excited bees made their way into the room. Curious – not angry, but intent on evaluating the threat.
The tongue-in-groove paneling was locked into place in the corner, and resisted easy removal. So over the next half hour, I struggled to remove the wall to get at the comb. The area was almost certain to be a small one – there was just not enough space in the corner to hold a hive of any real size.
I finally decided that removing the molding around the window would allow me more access, and I pried it loose.
The hive was not relegated to just the corner. It turned out that this was an enormous hive, extending for about eight feet to the right of the corner. The comb next to the entrance was mostly dry, having held honey that had already gotten sucked down during the winter. But an opening down below allowed the bees to expand. And expand. And expand.
A sawzall quickly came into play (by the way, bees HATE the sound of saws), and I cut down the wall at the edge of the exposed comb, and exposed additional an additional five feet. The area covered by the bees was phenomenal.
There was dry comb on the left. There was nectar on the margin. And then rows and rows of brood – baby bees just waiting to be born. Comb extending down four and five feet below where it was connected to the wall.
This extension created a huge problem for transportation. If you had asked me 20-questions about the hive before I started, I would have had a hard time guessing whether it was bigger than a breadbox. That was about the size I expected it to be.
Instead, what resulted was much bigger than what I had the ability to move. I came with equipment to stage and transport bees in two boxes. Those two filled up before I got done with the first segment. The rest was choosing what pieces to save and which to discard. Eggs for boy bees? Discard pile. Honeycomb with nectar in it? Crush and strain, and then feed the remnants back to the bees. Eggs of girls (worker bees)? If they are in good shape, save them.
I cut and parsed and discarded and set aside a LOT of comb. Anything that I did not put back in the hive got melted down to make wax – I should have quite a lot of lip balm available pretty shortly. Maybe some mustache wax, too….
I did get some video of the removal of the comb. The hyperlapse function of my camera was a good way to capture it, since it took forever to complete the job.
It took the whole day.
And then the next.
Cleaning the sticky leftovers took quite a while. But the bees were promptly installed in the home bee yard, and are now happily buzzing around in their new home.
The Beverly Carol dropped a B – they are no longer a B&B&B!
(Or maybe they dropped an E – from the Beeverly Carol).