Monday, April 21, 2008

It finally happened. We finally were invaded by killer bees. "Killer" is something of a misnomer for Africanized bees, which can and do kill humans and other animals, but it's not as if they're going out looking for other beings to slaughter; rather, they will attack when they feel their hive is threatened. Thus, it's not dangerous to do stuff while the bees are foraging (buzzing flowers or my pond), but it can be dangerous to do pretty much of anything near the hive.

Anyway, our handyman was here this morning fixing the cooler baffle when he noticed a few bees going in and out through a crack at the top of our house just below the roof. I immediately called a bee exterminator, and they said they'd be here in a couple of hours. About two and a half hours later, Rocko heard a very loud sound of buzzing outside his office. I came in to look, then over to my office, and the air outside the windows was literally thick with bees milling around. It was like something from a horror movie.

I thought it was probably just a swarm, getting ready to move in, which wouldn't have been dangerous (till after they moved in), but I wasn't sure enough of my natural history knowledge to go outside and see what was up. About five minutes later, the bee guy arrived. When I told him the sequence of events, he said that it was probably a swarm, and went to take a look. He came back and said that the bees milling around were drones, and that the main part of the hive was already inside. He said the guys we saw this morning were probably advance scouts, who had decided that this was indeed a lovely place to set up the new hive. I took a picture of the swarm as it proceeded inside the crack. (I've seen swarms on trees, and they look like very strange, constantly wriggling, buzzing footballs.)

Bee guy put on his bee suit and went back to the swarm. He told us that the whole thing was inside now, and we should get out of the way. So we went inside. I watched as much as I could see from the window, which wasn't much, except that suddenly the air was thick with bees again, only this time they were dropping out of the air as they died. They began to pile up on top of the cooler, and he brushed them to the ground.

Five minutes later he was finished, except for plugging up the hole. He's coming back Sunday to bee-proof the whole house and the shed. He used pyrethrine, which does dissipate, but smells awful. He said that ants will probably eat the dead bees.

A couple of hours later, after doing some errands in the neighborhood, I went back to the bee area to change a hummingbird feeder. There were practically no dead bees around (they had already been eaten or blown away, I guess), but there were about a dozen live bees, buzzing around in seeming puzzlement. They could smell the Queen's pheromone, I guess, but had no way to get to it. I'm assuming they were stragglers, or scouts who had checked out another location or something.

And that's my bee story.

1 comment:

  1. YIKES!!! Life is full of dangers of one sort or another. I have to chase pigeons away from my air conditioner. I remember the days when I thought it was cute to have a pigeon nest in my window. I just don't feel the same about it around the a/c. I keep hearing about bees dying out, but I guess not the Killer Bees, which presumably are being killed out by exterminators. All the danger to the crops, etc., when there are no bees to pollinate anything any more. Do the ants die too if they take the dead bees to their nests? NY really has a lack of this sort of wildlife in the city. I do see a fly once in a while, and perhaps a cockroach once in a rare while, and of course rats in the subway. I don't miss any of that.

    Juan Diego Flores has just finished his 9 high Cs. I saw his encore the other night. What a surprise that was!! My first encore at the Met. Well, solo at least. They always do the chorus in Nabucco. They are begging, but who knows--it is on the radio and in theaters, so he will probably do it again. Cool. Nope, didn't happen. Cooler.