Bee 911 Disaster/Adventure

Amy and I came home from today's bee meeting to find that an enormous Eucalyptus tree at the top of our sloping back yard had fallen down, taking another tree with it. (Click the photo to enlarge it, and check out the picnic table at the bottom of the frame for scale.)

That discovery was dramatic enough.

Then we looked up the hill to see that the Eucalyptus had fallen right on top of our bee hive, leaving scattered boxes and a cloud of very confused and pissed-off bees.

The impact had crushed the giant ceramic pot that served as our hive base, but the boxes themselves were in surprisingly good shape. The bottom box (containing the brood nest) was upside-down, and when I turned it upright the bees really went into defensive mode.

Luckily for us, we have Kirk Anderson in the neighborhood, and he came by to assess the situation.

"Holy shit!" said Kirk, upon seeing the size of the fallen tree. It's pretty unusual to get that much of a reaction out of him. But when it came to the bees, of course, he was totally unfazed.

We found that the brood box had four broken frames, and that the comb had fallen away from each of them. Working together, we tied the brood comb back into the frames with kite string and put everything back in the box as it was before.

We removed all the honey comb that had fallen out of the other overturned boxes. We'll do a crush-and-strain harvest of the cured honey, and feed the uncured stuff back to the bees.

On Kirk's advice, the plan now is to plug the entrance of the hive tonight after dark and move the whole thing up the hill a bit so that a tree crew can come in and get chain-sawing.

Amy caught one sting. I got away without any, and if Kirk got stung he didn't mention it.

Kirk's good instincts and matter-of-fact approach made the whole repair job easy and straightforward. So despite our yard being a bit of a wreck, we got another good bee lesson in today.

Here's Kirk's re-cap: