New beekeeper meets a BBQ hive

Barbara and Jennifer.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

Jennifer called the Bee Rescue Hotline about a swarm of bees that had started building a hive under her BBQ. She had already exposed them by pulling away the BBQ cover at night. She had worked with bees with her dad when she was younger and would have kept them if her dog didn't have a big reaction to the bee stings.

New beekeeper Barbara came along, and writes this about her experience:

Bees…I’ve always thought about them, enjoyed staring at them in my garden and on the pepper trees next door. I’ve stepped on more than a few in clover-filled back yards as a child. I’ve collected a few ancient coins from Ephesus, Greece with images of bees on them. I’ve read about the Mellisae (bee priestesses) and have had fantasies of making my own mead. I am filling my Kindle with bee books, looking at top bar hive plans, etc, but tonight was the real deal. CONTACT – or hopefully no contact - with real live living, buzzing, stinging bees.

I was already set to go with Roberta to my first bee experience, a cut-out the next Saturday morning. Then she called to invite me to get a swarm under a BBQ right in Long Beach. I was thrilled and thought a swam would be a good intro for me. They would most likely be docile since they had nothing to protect, right? Turns out that was not the case. They had started setting up housekeeping and had drawn some comb.

As Roberta helped me don my borrowed veil I thought to myself, “OK, you are all in now, girl." Roberta is an excellent teacher who spoke to me very calmly about what she was doing and why every step of the way. She had also given me some clear safety tips and I felt very comfortable.

Roberta expertly sprayed the bees with a little water and nudged the majority of the mass into a waiting box. She took the time to point out the little rear ends in the air indicating that we had the queen in the box.

It was soon clear that there were many bees who were very unhappy. They were everywhere around us and on us. The air was filled and we were covered. I could feel them bumping my thick leather gloves and my veil. Oddly, I did not feel fear or panic although I was pretty resigned to getting stung. I am still amazed that I was not.

I am also glad that it wasn’t a “typical” calm swarm situation because now I know I won’t panic.

As we rode home on the 405 we were treated to fireworks from somewhere in Long Beach while thousands of bees settled down with their queen in a box in the back seat. What a night!

This morning I feel like I have been through a life-changing initiation. I can’t remember feeling so good about myself. If you are a newbee given the opportunity to go out on a rescue with an experienced beekeeper, do it. Don’t hesitate. You will be in awe of these wonderful little creatures. That awe will only be exceeded by the way you will feel about yourself having done it.


After we had finished, Jennifer offered to help us on future rescues! Barbara's already signed up to do a cutout this weekend and her real bee gear is on the way. I'm so excited for her.