With our permission, he contacted a friend of his who keeps bees as a hobby. Said friend confirmed that we had previously-unknown tenants, identified them as reasonably-peaceful Italian honey bees, and confirmed that they probably had a hive behind the brick facade. Getting them out was, unfortunately, beyond the hobbyist’s capabilities. I mentioned that, given a choice, I’d rather see the hive rescued and relocated than exterminated. (Yeah, I’m an old hippy. I also grew up on a farm and know the importance of honey bees in the Grand Scheme of Things.) Which is how we ended up with Paul Giesecke from Honey Bee Relocation Services working to do just that on April 6.
Paul and his fellow bee rescuer were amazing. They suited up and, at 10:00am, began dismantling the section of the front facade, brick by gently tapped-out brick, below where the bees had been observed going in and out. They reported that the hive was “huge”, so it would probably take longer than originally thought. Gentle tapping and gentle scraping continued as more brick was removed. Comb, honey, larva and a large number of bees, including the queen, were moved to a hive box resting in the front yard. At around 1:15pm, Paul called on the phone (I’d mentioned that I was allergic to bee stings) to tell us that progress had been made, but they weren’t finished. The plan was to leave things alone while they guys went off to grab lunch, and give the bees that were eluding capture by going to the bottom of the wall the opportunity to come back up and follow the scent of the queen to the hive box. This sounded like an excellent plan to me.
In about an hour, they were back. Many of the remaining bees had followed the queen, but not all. We still had what seemed like an awful lot of confused bees flying around, and there were still bees hiding out in the lower recesses of the wall. Paul *could* dismantle the rest of that section of wall, but recommended against it. They’d gotten, he estimated, 80%-90% of the hive (close to 100,000 bees), all of the comb, all of the honey, all the larva, and the queen. With no support system and no queen, the remaining bees will not be able to reestablish the hive, and will die out within two to four weeks. Paul covered the large V-shaped hole in the brick with a tarp, protection from both weather and the return of those bees not currently in the wall, while Himself and Paul’s partner went around the rest of the house looking for other possible hives or breaches in the brick. No hives, one breach, and Himself has taken care of that.
Somewhere in Somervell County, a bunch of probably disoriented bees have crawled out of a hive box to find they’ve relocated, en masse and en famille, to Honey Bee Heaven. Acres and acres of farmland and quality food sources. I’m sorry we couldn’t save them all, but we saved most, and that’s something. And the fact that the cost of all of this was less than one-quarter of what an extermination would have cost is a nice bonus.
Thanks and a resounding recommendation for Paul Giesecke and Honey Bee Relocation Services (honeybeerelocationservices.com). They do exceedingly good work.