Barbara & Roberta rescue bees in Long Beach

LA Backwards Beekeepers Barbara and Roberta have been doing fantastic work lately—not just rescuing bees, but documenting the process to help others learn from their experience.

Barbara writes:

Warren had contacted us about some north Long Beach bees in need of rescue. Josie had watched a swarm descend upon her lemon tree about 4 months prior and that was about the time she noticed bees flying around in her carport. She has a pretty strong allergy to honey—one day too many of putting honey in her tea gives her a pretty nasty rash—so it was important to remove the bees.

Carport wall before demolition...

Once Roberta and I arrived, it was clear that it would be easier to access the hive from next-door neighbor Monica’s backyard than from Josie’s storage-filled carport. Fortunately we had permission from them both to tear down whatever was necessary to get to the bees.

We took turns pulling down fence boards then took a crowbar to the back wall of the old carport. There they were: lots of bees, living on what seemed to me to be some pretty old comb. I doubt the hive arrived 4 months prior. I’m guessing what Josie saw was a swarm leaving, not arriving.

...and after.

Roberta had thought we would finish in an hour but unfortunately I can rarely keep up with her (who can?), so it took 2 hours. By the time we finished scraping off as much wax as we could, ants had already started moving in to clean up the remaining honey.

I did mention to Josie that since she loves her honey, she should start buying untreated raw honey from a local beekeeper; that the pollen in it might get her over her allergy.


Here are some more great video clips of the process:


Yvonne rescues bees after LA Windstorm 2011

The birdhouse bees on a happier, hotter day.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Yvonne writes:

Doug and Cheryl gave us a call for help. Some bees moved into a bird house in their Baldwin Hills back yard over the summer. The strong Santa Ana winds, combined with the weight of the bee hive, caused the support beam to break in half and the bird house landed on the ground.

We went and collected the bird house and moved the hive into new digs in Santa Monica. The bees appear to be very happy in their new home!



Barbara's Long Beach bee rescue

Ed faces the beehive.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Barbara led a bee rescue at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach. She writes:

It was one of those hives you wish you could just leave alone—comb woven so beautifully through the branches of the tree, its length impressive given its position out at the end of some very tiny branches. It looked impossibly heavy. Somehow it had survived the Santa Ana winds of the night before. I worried that evening that our rescue the next morning at dawn might come too late but when Craig and I arrived at 6:30 a.m. it was still firmly attached, covered in bees and was providing breakfast for a hummingbird. I wish we had gotten a picture of that.

Ed from Long Beach Department of Parks and Recreation had contacted Roberta to see if we could help out with this hive. The City has been very open to the idea of relocating rather than exterminating hives in the city’s parks so we really wanted this to go well. It could only be done on a weekday, so Roberta would not be available. I would need some help. I put out the call for some muscle and Rich, who has helped out before, said he was available and needed bees to bolster his weaker hive. We were set...or so we thought.

The night before the scheduled rescue, Rich injured his back and was not going to be able to lift or bend. There went the muscle. Rich brought his wife Sheleana and I brought Craig, who had helped me with pickups a time or two. Unfortunately we only had one extra veil borrowed from Roberta, so Craig was relegated to taking videos from a distance and being chased around the park by guard bees. He did both very well!

Ed had brought a one-person bucket truck which he was required to operate himself for liability reasons, so with no rescue experience he had to smoke, prune, vacuum, cut comb and bring it all down to Rich and me; we framed it and emptied the bee-filled vacuum into Rich’s boxes.

The top third of the hive had been drawn all through the little branches and had to be brought down as one piece. We estimated its weight at between 15 and 20 pounds. It was absolutely beautiful.

One interesting aspect was that several iridescent green fig beetles had been entrapped and looked like jewels below the surface. Rather than create a huge mess trying to remove the honeycomb from the mass we left it intact. Rich added a third box to enclose it so the bees could deal with it as they saw fit this winter.

It was a smooth team effort with no mishaps and amazingly for Craig, no stings. I’m sure Ed will ask for BBK help again.


UPDATE: Barbara sent some great video clips from the rescue.


Viewer mail: Greetings from Denmark

A reader writes:

Dear Backwards Beekeepers,

I am a beekeeper from Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, and very glad to have found your blog and get inspired in ways to make beekeeping simpler, and more about the bees than the equipment, and altogether reflect on why I manage the bees as I do.

Reading about your struggles with rigid and ignorant laws, I feel fortunate that beekeeping has very old traditions and has been more recognized here for a long time. For example: A beekeeper chasing a swarm is allowed by law to tresspas on another man's land in order to follow it. A long history, however, also means that beekeepers here has become a bit set in their ways. (At a screening of the film "Queen of the Sun" a man remarked: "In our school apiary we have been using foundation for one hundred and twenty years, so there must be a reason for it").

This Christmas the whole family is going to celebrate the holiday with may aunt and uncle in Phoenix, AZ. If you know of any beekeepers there I would love to make their acquaintance and trade a jar of honey.

Best Regards,

Asger M.

Any Phoenix readers want to meet a fellow beekeeper from Denmark? Leave your info in the comments.