The Lost Bees

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By Lucy Winn Fuller

I went on my first honeybee removal a few days ago. For those of you that don’t know; a bee removal is the removal of a swarm of bees that have settled in a place where they are basically unwanted. It sounds rather depressing. If you are a lover of these little insects like I am, you are probably thinking, “Who wouldn’t want bees?” Well, it turns out that when a colony of bees decide to move into a column near the front door of someone’s home, it’s not the most ideal situation. I honestly think that’s a great place for them to be… if anything, it keeps away unsolicited visitors. But, most “normal” people, unlike me, would like for them to be elsewhere. Like, out in the country, miles away from their home in one of my bee boxes. That works for me!
My mentor and good friend, Keith, who happens to be an expert on bees, assisted me with the task of removing the girls from the suburban home. Jody was there also, for moral support and picture taking. We were so thankful to be granted with the task of removing these bees. Most people would pull out the bug spray or call an exterminator. Thankfully, they searched for a beekeeper to remove them safely rather than killing them. Bees are so important to our livelihood, we need these little critters around.
We literally had to deconstruct the column and part of the rock base that supported it in order to retrieve the bees. It wasn’t pretty, but it could have been worse. We removed about 6 good sized honeycombs (some had honey but mostly bee larvae). We attached them to some frames and placed them inside of a bee box with hopes of attracting the rest of the bees inside. Well, some bees smelled the comb and followed but unfortunately, the rest of the bees were not so cooperative. We never saw the queen bee and were afraid that we may have mistakenly killed her when we were smoking out the bees from their makeshift home. Sometimes, the smoke can get a little too hot for their fragile wings and injure or kill them. We always try to be careful, but we are human, and mistakes can easily happen.
We took what bees we could rescue and sealed them up carefully with their comb inside of a colorful bee box. Keith and I both share a love of the Lord and are Emmaus brother and sister. (If you haven’t been on a walk to Emmaus, it’s a life changing event that will alter your love and understanding of the big JC (Jesus Christ). You won’t forget it and you won’t regret it. Look it up.) One of the symbols we use in Emmaus is the rainbow. Keith has an entire apiary filled with every color bee box you could imagine. Its beautiful. Especially this time of year with the wildflowers and gardens in full bloom. I am working on my rainbow, so far, I have two hives; one yellow and one ocean blue. Now, I have a purple box of what’s left of our rescue bees.
Unfortunately, as with any rescue, it doesn’t always go as planned or as you hoped. We were unable to get all these little bees in the box and I only ended up with about 20 or so bees and their brood and what little honey they had produced. I divided up the combs and added them to my existing hives with hopes that my nurse bees would tend to the eggs and larvae. Hopefully, the “baby” bees will hatch and become a part of my existing hives. So far, my girls have covered the new frames and are all over the larvae. Feeding and caring for them without any question or hesitancy, in true motherly fashion.
As for the remaining 20 or so bees we tried so hard to save, they are still in the box with what honey we were able to save for them. Without a queen and other members of their little colony, they most likely won’t survive. But like I keep telling myself, at least we tried. Sometimes you do your best and that’s all you can do. Keith and I are kind of like the shepherd with the lost sheep. We don’t give up on saving the “herd” and will wait to make sure that last lamb or bee is saved. But unfortunately, in some cases, when the lamb has a mind of its own there is only so much you can do, and you must trust God to handle the rest in His own timing.
If wonder if there is an apiary in heaven? A place where all the lost bees go; with endless fields of sunflowers, clover, and any wildflower one could possibly imagine. If there is, I bet the hives are painted just like Keith’s, one in every color of the rainbow. I’m sure we will find out one day, but until then, we have a lot more bees to herd. I really haven’t thought of us being bee herders… I guess our robe would be our bee suit and our staff would be our smokers. We roam the suburban areas in search of our lost bees. I could sit and daydream about bee heaven all day, but need to go check on my flock.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full time mother and wife. She currently resides in Dadeville with her husband, two daughters, four dogs, and cat. She may be reached at fullalove2017@gmail.com.

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