Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bee-You-ti-FULL! ........ My Honeybee Saga

So it all started a little over a month ago with the odd lonely honeybee

(First attempt:  "Trap-out" luring bees to substitute hive)

suddenly appearing in our bedroom, and after fruitless attempts to find an exit and rejoin the outdoors,
curling up to die.  A sorry state of things.  (We have screens on our windows, so it was not practical to take them out seventeen times a day to let the poor bees out.)  Mr. P. climbed up on the roof to see if they were coming in through the skylights or the chimney and instead he found a cluster of buzz, clinging to a tiny hole at the front of our house.  

All this was distressing to Mr. Paradis and me on many levels so we decided to call in experts. 

(Plan B: "Cut Out" and remove)

We found those experts at the Backwards Beekeepers.  And found out ALL kinds of things we did not know about L.A. and BEES!  The good news is, that urban bees are fluorishing!  Unlike the agricultural bees that are being overworked, apparently, and under siege by mites, chemicals etc., etc., all those things you read about in the newspapers.  But urban Los Angeles hosts a legion of healthy populations of bees and beekeepers.  Are you as surprised as we were?

But none of us are surprised are we, that yes, I had a beehive in my house. 

The beekeepers cut a big hole in the front of it, and removed TWO LARGE GARBAGE CAN SIZE quantities of honeybees and a comb. (And more...eventually.) How all those bees fit into that hole we still don't understand.  Further small holes were made in the wall in order to locate other hives and bees but nothing turned up.

All this took place over the course of several weeks.  Our first strategy had been to lure the bees out into other hives, and one of the beekeepers, Walker (who looks like a fashion model and has had a career in the movie and rag trades) - took them away with her to live at her house.  (Most of the beekeepers in the L.A. area are women.)  That was called a "trap-out".  When more and more bees continued to accumulate in our bedroom, Mr. Paradis said:  "Enough of being a nice guy!" because he was tired of them landing on him when he was trying to sleep.  (And he never wears slippers in the house, so the bedroom was turning into a minefield.)  So we called Walker and said: "CUT THEM OUT!"

That is when the big hole appeared.  It is more traumatic to the bees than a trap-out, but they do recover.  And we were told that these were quite happy, nice bees (of course! - unlike the very unhappy ones who killed the Doberman Pinscher in someone's back yard in the San Fernando valley but that is another story).  So most of the bees went away to a home close by, and the beekeepers came back every other day for about a week to take home any stragglers and make sure the bees weren't trying to get back in to any other hives, or to reestablish one.  And then we had Jaime, the mason, (who lost the Doberman Pinscher, poor guy) come over right away to close up the holes before any other crowd of bees could make themselves at home in one.  

It was a fairly expensive and unexpected episode in our lives all the way around, and came at a bad time - so not something I would wish on anyone......but we now have a lovely jar of glistening fresh honey in our cupboards and we met some lovely interesting people.  

If you'd like to know more about all this check out the Backwards Beekeepers site (above) and here is a different blog post and video about Walker.   Our other beekeeper was Kirk, who's been beekeeping since the '70's.  Underneath that beekeeper's hood, he sports a white mohawk.  (Yes, a beekeeper with serious personality!) And his hives are at other peoples' houses extending from the San Gabriel Valley, to Beverly Hills since he lives in apartment!  

This last photo is from David Lebovitz's blog.  The hives are in Lebanon which he recently visited and blogged about in a truly tempting, soulful and beautiful set of posts.  It reminds me that once upon a time, we lived much closer to nature, and having bees in such close proximity might not have been so alarming as it now seems to be to some.

So that's about all I have to say at the moment about bees.  I do love honey and I think it's supposed to be good for you.  I don't think I will ever become a beekeeper, but I am thankful for this brief insight into the natural world around me.  And I'm glad to know that there is hope for the bees - as long as we turn them all into urbanites!  

What about you, anybody out there interested in being a beekeeper?


  1. some story! i don't think it has talked me into liking honey (one of the few peeps who really does not like the taste of honey...), but how brave, and courageous, and meticulous you have been about this !

  2. What a traumatic experience! My goodness. I'm so glad you were able to find people to help you and hopefully stop this from happening again. Yay for honey and bees being moved to a safe home. :-)

  3. An interesting experience every step of the way. I love that the urban bees are thriving - thank goodness something is. We need them, and I commend you for handling it so thoughtfully. I do completely understand Mr. P's reaction - I'm sure I would have freaked out eventually too! Everything in it's place :^)

  4. Quelle aventure... il y a des ruches sur les toits de paris, notamment sur le toit de l'opéra garnier...mais heureusement pas dans ma maison... a Paris, il pleut, il pleut toujours et encore

  5. My husband would - but in the country side! Eat a spoonful of honey each day and you won't get sick - or at least much less often! I see that Eiline Paris has explained about things here. I guess you are glad your house guests are gone now!

  6. wonderful story mlle p .... and oh my.. you certainly did have to bring in the troops to sort this one through. Like bees... but not over my head making me think about the likelihood of being stung.
    Just back from Melbourne where I met a man with an interesting history with bees... might get to post about it soon. Tasted some wonderful honeys!
    Must check out your links... and so tell... what era was your home built? Looks interesting!

  7. no not really, but what a story.
    We also had a honeybee hive on our terrasse where we lived before and had to call a company to come a collect it too as the neighbours were complaining :)

  8. What a story! Glad it's all over for you now and that you can enjoy some nice honey for breakfast!