473 – Hero Soup: 10


Our mailman’s name is Doug. He’s a personable, helpful, and knowledgeable sort of guy. I like him. So a few days ago when he told me not to walk across the street if I want to escape injury, I naturally became concerned.

He told me that right across the road from where I stood in my doorway, in that tree right there, was a large and angry swarm of bees. I stepped out into the front yard, and sure enough, there was a cloud of the little devils buzzing huge circles over about a 30 foot or so area. Doug told me that he had watched as several passersby had walked inadvertently into the bees, only to run shouting and waving their arms. I thanked Doug for the warning and resolved to take a different path on my next walk.

Two days later the owner (or is he the owner’s brother? I can never remember) of the little catering service next door told me that there was a swarm of bees in my front yard, and they had been scaring the customers away. (They also sell take out dinners… though they call them carry away…) He pointed up into my magnolia tree and said that they were building a hive up there. It appeared so.

I hopped on the internet and Lena started calling beekeepers and removal people. ($300 to remove a hive, BTW.) It seems that in the spring, honeybees often produce extra queens, which will divide the hive up, gorge themselves on honey, and fly off in search of new digs. The resultant swarm is actually when the bees are their least hazardous, and much less likely to be provoked by something stupid the humans might do. (Like running about shouting and waving their arms.) The bees will zip from place to place, lighting for up to a few days, before moving on in search of the perfect place. The swarm will clump together in a tree, under an eave, or some other potential spot to build. (If they stay more than 3 days or you see the wax honeycomb, you can start worrying about a hive, otherwise they’re likely moving on.) 

Anyway, I thought the thing was pretty fascinating so I went out and took a pic for you guys to see. Sorry for the camera movement, but the wind was blowing and I was trying unsuccessfully to track the swarm. You can still get a pretty good look at it though.

26 Responses to 473 – Hero Soup: 10

  1. Wow. It’s like a nature show in here… 🙂 Seriously though, that really is kind of cool looking. Is there anything in that pile other than the bees? I mean, had they started building a hive, or were they moving on? ‘Cause they way they’re swaying in the wind without falling apart is even more amazing if there’s no structure underneath them…

  2. One would think that with that strange “colony disappearance” disease that wipes out whole heneybee colonies in North America and Europe, beekeepers would love to find a healthy new swarm and actually pay you to be allowed to take the swarm home. Or are these wild bees? I’m not sure how far north those “killer bee” hybrids of European honeybees and African wild bees have migrated in North America?

    • I’m surprised there was a $300 charge to remove bees from a branch. That’s a really easy swarm recovery. Around here (Ohio), we beekeepers usually remove outdoor swarms for free, in a win-win situation. The homeowner gets the bees away from their house, and we get a free swarm of bees. BTW, the people saying swarming bees (non-Africanized) are gentle are correct. A stinging honeybee dies, so they do it only when threatened, as a last resort.

      A bee swarm (again, non-Africanized) is no real threat to anyone, but they may nest in an unwanted place such as inside an attic. So there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get them taken away. Contact your local beekeeping club, and usually someone will do it for free or for a nominal charge. We do sometimes charge money if we have to remove a really difficult swarm, such as from inside a wall, but that’s up to the individual beekeeper.

      In my case, I usually charge nothing except that I get to keep the bees. 🙂 If the homeowner wants to pay something, I accept a donation to our local beekeeping club.

  3. Those were just bees, they were gone without a trace in a couple of days. As for whether or not they were “Africanized,” it’s hard to say. There are differences, but not ones that you can really tell at a safe distance. Plus, not being a “bee guy” I’m not certain I’d have been able to tell without a bee of the other kind there to compare it to. (We do have the Africanized bees here.)

  4. Back to the comic for just a sec.

    So let me get this straight – Dick and Kaylee are hopelessly in love. But they can’t consummate their love because in the heat of the moment she might cause Dick to fall hopelessly in love?

    Um. Wha?

  5. @Noodlebug:

    I like the way you just winged that in there. You do realize, however, that you’ve now left this thread open to the possibility of a swarm of bee puns. But I’ll keep this reply short otherwise I might drone on and on …

  6. Oh, don’t worry ron, I’m sure everyone will BEEhave. It would be BEEwildering if they started acting in a BEEnighted manner. I’m sure they wouldn’t hit BEElow the belt like that.

    Oh, and as far as “admitting” goes… The problem is that when the confessor, er admitor, uses her power, she causes a person to fall into an obsessive love that totally destroys their personality — they are so in love with her that they will literally die if she asks them to. (Scene from book: she tells him to drop dead, and he does).

    That said, the whole ‘completely in love’ thing is a connection that the original author made. Being completely in love with each other, it is possible for Richard and Kahlan to, ah, enjoy each other, because her power won’t effect him.

  7. You can easily tell if they are Africanized…. With how close you were to the swarm, they didn’t attack, therefore they are NOT africanized. ^_^ Generally Africanized bees are VERY protective and aggressive. You get within 100 feet of them and they will attack in swarms chasing you for at least a mile or more. Honeybees only attack if they feel their queen is threatened so you can get close to them as long as you move slow. If they attack, they will stop chasing you a lot sooner (maybe only 1/4 mile at most).

    I work for the local Ag department and we get bee-swarm calls all the time. I have to take samples in cases when someone gets stung, so I’ve had to learn quite a bit about them. When they turn out ot be benign honey bees, we have three beekeepers to call on that will come out for free and collect the swarm, if you haven’t checked, next time I’d say call your local Ag department, they might have a contact list of free bee collectors.

  8. @lithara

    Actually, I contacted several places to get the bees. I was told that they could just spray them with sugar water and shake the branch. The whole sha-bang would fall on a cloth placed beneath and they would just wrap them up and take them… AND they would charge me $300 to do it – give or take a hundred.

    And, as a note… bees that are swarming (at least honey bees – not sure about swarming Africanized ones) are not aggressive. They are very passive and are very uninterested in stinging while without a hive. Unless you really pester the crap out of them and go over and beyond shaking them off a branch.

  9. the house i grew up in is about a hundred years old, so you can imagine there a few holes here and there. it’s also a rural village so we don’t have any real removal service we can call other then out of town.

    for a while we heard a buzzing behind the vanity mirror in the washroom, and one night while shaving, i saw a bee force itself out from a hole about half a centimeter in width that used to hold a screw.

    we put some tape over it but we began to worry when the buzzing became louder and louder until it sounded like a muffled hum of a jet engine.

    my dad managed to kill them via bombarding them with can after can of raid through a hole he made, but all in all it was an interesting experience that summer. thankfully no one but the bees got hurt.

  10. This is unBEEcoming.

    It can never be!!!!! I love this, perfect resume 😀

    It’s like all that Dark Side crap in Star Wars: I’ve opposed you and your goals all my life, but if I give in for a moment to my anger towards your murderous acts, I’ll join you and help you conquer the universe and murder my ex-friends. Peuh-lease… It can never be!!!!

  11. i live in south texas roughly 3 hrs north of the mexican border we have both kinds of bees here (africanized and regular honey) and there was a swarm outside my house one sunday a coupla years ago.i called 911 because there were thousands of bees moving around my front door. they told me because it was sunday the city wouldnt do anything about it.i hung up the phone pretty pissed off.i have small children.so my wife called them back and went belligerent redneck on them(shes really good at that)and an hour later someone came to remove the bees that were in a tree in my neighbors yard.
    we found out afterwards that the bees were africanized. we have at least one death per year from those bees.mostly people stumbling upon them doing yardwork or home repair

  12. I have a cousin who was killed twice by Canadianized wasps. He was pretty pissed after the second time, but he’s over it now.

  13. Who’d you get the Rez from? Any side effects? I need to find a new Primary Care Cleric, is all….

  14. Ok, now that I’ve recharged, I can comment on the comic!
    Which confuses me.
    If they’re already in love…it shouldn’t matter it she…unless she doesn’t want to make him a slave…I…augh…
    *Clutches head in pain*
    Great comic, though. I see dead lizardmen and blood in the background. >.<


  15. I like your parody of “Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind. Crappy book, but there was something about it the kept me reading to the end. Then I felt dirty.

  16. Noodlebug wrote: “You do realise you now have an Africanized president..? Isn’t that dangerous?”

    Not unless he starts stinging other world leaders with his butt. 😉

  17. So just find out if there’s a local beekeepers’ association somewhere near you. Those guys won’t charge you anything, and they will be totally excited to come and capture your swarm.

    At least, if they’re anything like my co-worker who keeps bees. I’d send him for your swarm but he lives in Ohio.