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Adventures In Bee Conservation; Bee Tree #1

So there I am, working on the class material for the next Bee Spotter class, when I get a phone call from a local Omaha resident about having bees in a tree and getting them removed and relocated.

He tells me that while the bee nest is about fifteen feet above ground, their presence makes him concerned about people being stung.  Can I come out to see about removing them?

I chat with him a bit over the phone.  I want to help relieve him and understand that being that high up in the tree, the bees are of little to no direct threat to anyone.  Even mowing near the tree shouldn’t upset them because of their out-of-the-way location.  Mowing was a concern of his as he thought he would agitate them into being aggressive.  Nope, not really.  They would need to be already agitated by a bird or other problem critter messing about their nest entrance to get that agitated.

I was able to get out there Sunday morning and whille he wasn’t home at the time, I had his permision to inspect the tree.  This is a bee tree setup so typical as to be textbook bee nest.

I put up my trusty ladder to get a close-up look at the nest entrance.  These are beautiful bees.  They are also pretty warm and bearding at the entrance a bit.  In their defense, it was about 90°F at the time.  Even so, they are very docile and weren’t perturbed in the least that I was mucking about near their nest entrance.

Oh the musky, lemony, honey edged scent of the nest was very strong as you got close to it.  Best smell in the world.

I took a short video and then made a phone call to the homeowner.  I explained the four options available in this situation.

  1. Cut out, meaning cut into the tree itself to remove the bees, comb and all for a decent chance of survival.
  2. Trap out, which will take about six weeks on average, maybe shorter, likely longer and give the relocated bees virtually no chance to build a new nest and forage for necessary resources, likely resulting in starvation by Spring even with artifical feeding.
  3. Exterminate the bees en situ.  My personal least favorite option.  There really is no necessity to exterminate the bees, they are established, docile and seemingly healthy based on the brief, limited, inspection.  However, if I cannot reasonably access the nest to remove everything the bees will need, all or most of the honey, pollen and brood, then we are essentially condemning the bees to a slow death by starvation and attack by parasites anyway.
  4. My personal favorite and heavily encouraged option, leave them alone.  For reasons already discussed, the bees stand their best chance at survival right where there currently are.  If he still wants to have them totally removed, we can arrange a trap-out to begin next Spring to give them the best opportunity to re-establish their nest and build up sufficient resources to survive and thrive.

To my great satisfaction, the homeowner has chosen to keep them alive where they are but does want to relocate them next Spring.  They will be relocated to the teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres and everyone wins.

This is successful bee conservation, keeping bees healthy and alive.  Keeping them alive instead of unnecessarily killing them or letting them die because of irrational fears or mis-informed motivations.

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