4-H Bee Club takes on a hive rescue

The 4-H hive rescue team: Randy, Susan, Lucia, Lily.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

I’ve been working with the Rancho Palos Verdes 4-H club for about a year now, and I’m always on the look out for Bee Rescue Hotline calls in that area.

One came up that was very near the 4-H meeting place, and it was a cutout. The hive had been there a while—Randy did the investigation work and saw that it was a good-sized hive that would be perfect for one of the empty 4-H hives. Randy really wanted the project for the young ladies to go well, so he went the day before and opened up the wall of the shed where the bees were so that that there'd be easy access. He noticed during that initial work that the bees seemed very defensive, but we gave them the benefit of the doubt.

We planned to meet early the next morning with Lily and her sister Lucia. They’ve been doing beekeeping for about 1 or 2 years now by observing inspections. Randy and Susan led them because I needed to leave for a class. Lily was a little nervous as we got everything set up, but Lucia was so very excited that she kept getting closer and closer to the bees. Lily decided to bow out and watch with her dad and the homeowner from the screen door.

I helped get things going but really hadn’t planned on staying. However, with the first comb removal the bees went into high alert and defense mode. I tried to help out, but could hardly see at one point because there were so many bees in my face. I didn’t really have the right pants on and was stung through them at least 100 times. Ouch!!

Lucia loved it, though, and stayed right in the middle of the action. She got a thrill out of the cutout and I got a few texts afterwards about how much she enjoyed it. Her father said they found hundreds of stingers in her suit and shoes. She didn’t get a single sting. We were all very impressed by her calm and collected enthusiasm. She’s a born bee rescuer.

Bees on the wall: get back in your box!

I checked out the situation the following night and found that most of the bees were on the wall instead of in their new box. Ughh!! Well, I suited up and scooped them up and put them in the box and moved the box so it was touching the wall. I got a bunch more stings but it did the trick because by the next night they were all tucked inside.

Randy picked them up and brought them to a big open area; their behavior wouldn’t be a good fit in a urban backyard. And they just weren’t going to work for the 4-H club. It was a great experience, though, and we’ll find another one soon I bet.

Congratulations to Lucia and Lily on their first cutout adventure and thanks to Randy and Susan for the mentoring.