Some of you asked about my de-beeing. Here’s a photo summary of what happened.
The problem – an active honeybee hive of unknown age, in the walls and floor of a stucco-finish sleeping porch:
The solution – Jeff from Bee Busters – a company in Acton, MA. Jeff is seen here about to cut a one-foot square hole in the porch floor to get to the hive’s probable location:
It turns out we were lucky in most respects. The hive was relatively new (in a 95-year old house anything is possible). It was mostly in the wall as opposed to being in the floor. While that was unlucky in that it required knocking an additional three foot square hole in the stucco, the hive was easy to remove. Here’s one large piece. The queen is under the scrum of bees at the bottom corner:
The overwhelming majority of the bees were captured, including the queen. Some of the stragglers?were caught using a bee-vac, a juryrigged crate fitted out with a dust-buster engine and a three-inch wide flexible hose. The hummers are now?off to quarrantine to make sure they harbor no parastites, then after that – to work as productive little droners working away in local orchards and fields.
I’m delighted that no giant comb system existed. If it had, we’d have to go through a ton more demolition and restoration to get at the hive. The down side of it being a young colony is that I didn’t end up with honey. Honeycombs are two-sided. If a comb has honey stored on both sides it can be harvested for extraction. These combs had bee larvae on one side and honey on the other, typical for newer hives but not suitable for people-use.
The gaping holes in my porch now sit open for several days to dry out. A few foragers out shopping when the hive was removed remain, but Bee Jeff assures me that they’ll load up with pollen and follow another bee home to a new hive. He said that if they arrive "with groceries" they’ll be accpeted by their new foster family.
All in all the experience was interesting, highly educational, but expensive. Now of course we have to repair those gaping holes…