12/7/11

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.

—Barbara


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


Comb show and tell:



Craig gets chased by a few cranky bees:



BIG hunk of honey comb:

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