1846 Homestead Renovation

Relocating the Bees at the Old House

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  Rotting wood, incapable workers, cold weather.  And now, bees.  Not just one hive, either.  We were blessed (and really, I do mean that.  Bees are awesome.) with two hives.  No work was going to get done until we focused on relocating the bees behind our old house.  For one thing, the next project was to work exactly where one hive was located.  One hive was behind the clapboard siding and the interior walls of the house.  The other hive was in the tree that had fallen over and crushed part of the shed.  (yup…just something else to repair.)

Help with Hives

I posted a semi-urgent Facebook call for any bee keepers in the area who were knowledgeable about relocating the bees behind our old house.  Fortunately, Randy responded.  He and Steve (who actually wanted the bees for himself) came to remove the two hives.  We needed them removed because we didn’t have hives to put them in and really didn’t have time to even think about it.  They suited up and started to remove the bees in the wall of the house.

Randy knows a lot about keeping and relocating bees.  I knew a thing or two about these particular bees.  For starters, the danged things had chased me all over the yard.  Still, Randy and Steven showed up with all the gear they would need for relocating the bees.

We knew about the hive in the tree.  Jerry and I had seen it before we bought the house.  The tree was rotting and there was at least six feet of hive in the empty hollow of the tree.  When a storm blew through, the tree was too weakened to withstand it and promptly fell over onto the shed, breaking the front fascia support.  These were the bees that would chase me.

Our Hives Have Personalities

The other bees were quietly minding their own business in the walls of the house.  I didn’t know they were there.  We had been buzzed while working on the house, but always assumed it was the only hive we knew about.  THOSE bees, as I said before, would chase me to the front yard and continue to pursue.  I finally ducked into Jerry’s truck and sat for ten minutes.  When I emerged, yup…more chasing.  Jerry and I were removing the clapboard from the back (east) side of the house when we found the hive in the wall and immediately vacated the area.

Turns out, according to Randy, hives have personalities.  We had a docile hive in the wall and an aggressive one in the tree.  When the house leveling crew was working on the back side of the house, they had said there were bees buzzing them.  I think one of the guys was stung, but nothing major.

The bees never bothered us unless we got really close to their hive in the tree.  The guy who was stung had a habit of rummaging through the shed near the hive and my feelings were that if he was somewhere he wasn’t meant to be…well.


Relocating the Bees in the Wall

When the guys arrived to remove them, they started with the hive in the wall.  The thought was that they were the nicer of the two and that removing the bees from the wall would be much easier than getting the hive in the very heavy and protected tree stump.

Randy removed the remaining clapboard and began to remove then entire hive.  Once exposed, it was a simple matter of smoking them and scraping the hive from the wall and securing it in a box for transport.  I say it was a simple matter.  Randy was on a ladder, facing a bee hive.  God Bless him!!

Relocating the Bees in the Tree

The first removal went smoothly. They turned their attention to the hive in the tree.  This one didn’t so so well.  The bees were not happy that we were in the backyard.  Pretty territorial, these bees.  When Randy and Steven approached them, they started swarming.  Steven ended up with several stings as they attacked him pretty soundly and got inside his netting.

I don’t mind bees, but the thought that they would chase me down and attack repeatedly had me fleeing the area post haste.  Randy came over and tried to get enough smoke around Steven to get the bees to knock it off.

Our plan was to use a chainsaw to cut the hive out and then take that bit of the tree away.  Bees have an aversion to vibrations and loud noises.  They went wild when the saw was used.  The hive wasn’t a compact cluster of honeycomb either.  It ran for at least six feet inside the tree.  The odds were low that they could have gotten that out, but they did try.  Eventually, we decided that we would have to come up with a different method for relocating the bees away from the old house.

The Final Solution

The angry bees were left alone.  The beekeepers went home and so did Jerry and I.  We couldn’t get anything done with the bees stirred up.  A couple of weeks later, Bennie came to clear the land in preparation for the foundation work to start.  This was the perfect opportunity for relocating the bees from behind the old house.  The tree trunk, already fallen mind you, was rolled with a bulldozer to a pile of debris towards the edge of where the addition would be.  Bennie was also in a closed cab.

Those bees are out there, right now, plotting their revenge against us for the relocation.  Can’t wait…


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