Monday, May 31, 2010

The Beneficial Bee Sanctuary?

I was doing dishes and thinking the other day about bees. Word has gotten out around town that Glenn is a beekeeper and we have received several calls over the past two years from people needing help with bee swarm and hive removals. The calls are generally from people who love bees and wouldn’t consider exterminating them, but who cannot afford to spend two hundred dollars for live removal. Unfortunately, bee boxes are expensive and Glenn has been unable to help remove bees in many cases because he has nowhere to put them.

For Christmas, Glenn’s parents bought him two new bee boxes. Glenn used one box to capture a swarm from one of our hives and the other was sitting empty waiting for a bee call. Our neighbors up the street are renovating an old school house for a wedding venue and needed to find a new home for the bees that have made their home in the school house for the past six years. Glenn was intrigued by the challenge and agreed to help move the bees out of the school house.

Later that same week, we got a call from the county. Bees had made their home in a gas well head on a county work site and had to be removed. I initially said we would be unable to help, as we were out of bee homes. When the county found out it would be cheaper to purchase a bee box for us than paying an exterminator, they called back with an offer.

The county transaction led to my deep bee thinking. What about starting a bee sanctuary? We could offer to remove bees and move them onto our property if we could get a donation for a bee box ($60). Bee lovers could “sponsor” a hive that would have otherwise been exterminated. They would receive a picture of their hive with an annual update or something. Glenn and I would donate our time doing something we love: helping honey bees. Hmmm, now how can I set up a nonprofit in my spare time?

The calls made for a stimulating and sticky week of bee removals. Glenn and Oliver removed the bees from the county site first. As soon as I could leave work, I met them at the site to take my honey covered three-year-old home. Oliver had a great time helping his dad. When he wasn’t being chased by angry bees, he was watching hawks and finding snakes.

We scheduled the school house removal on a weekend so I could be "the assistant to the beekeeper." Grammy and Pop came along to help keep Oliver busy and take photographs. My mom gets the photo credits for (most of) these pictures.

The Assistants

Hive Removal

Smoking the Hive

Removing Comb

Brushing Bees

The Final Touches

Oliver's Favorite Part: The Honey!

Oliver is our preschool bee ambassador. On his share day he brought in a section of comb collected from the county site. The children were fascinated, but mostly wanted to smell the honey. Oliver did a good job trying to describe the process to his classmates.

After the hive removals, several bees were left stuck to honey covered hives in buckets on the porch. Oliver and I set up a M*A*S*H unit to revive the survivors. Grammy came to help with the bee saving efforts and we were able to get around 100 bees total back in the air next to their new hive. Each bee was carefully lifted out of the honey, dunked in water and dried. The bees seemed angry, but I'm sure they were thankful inside.

Can you guess how many stings we endured over the week of removals and revivals? ZERO!


  1. Very nice- again, you are friends to all creatures, big and small:) My advice would be to ask for $20 or so in addition to the cost of the bee boxes as a minimal fee for service, covering gas costs, your time, etc. Maybe I'm just greedy like that... I appreciate the belly bump pic! It's been a little while, but I do feel like you're carrying differently than you did the first time around...

  2. p.s. I hope you don't mind, Jess, that I saved a photo of your hubby and Oliver in their garb and posted a short cut on my side bar about "The Bee Team" and encouraging my blogger buddies to read how you are helping the bees. God bless you! I feel honored to know people like you. It gives me hope!

  3. That is so awesome! I love the pics of you guys and Oliver in your beekeeping outfits. The baby bump is coming along nicely as well :)

    Can't wait to see you guys soon. We fly in on the 22nd and the Flower Festival goes from the 23rd through the 27th. We'll have to work out a time to come visit the farm!

  4. Doris,

    Thank you so much! I love your idea to crochet items for the sanctuary. How thoughtful of you! I'll let you know what I find out about starting the sanctuary after I get through Oliver's birthday party. It is my next project! You have got to come visit the farm the next time you make it out to California to meet everyone!

    Thanks again for the link to Julia's blog-I love reading it. I'm waiting to hear back from the editor in July before I do anymore editing on my PB. If she does choose my book, she will probably want it edited her own specific way, so I'm taking a nice little break from it now. :)

    Thanks also for the link on your blog! It looks great!

  5. Erin- We need to hire you as our consultant. Yes this baby I'm carrying in the belly, whereas I carried Oliver in my thighs!

    Andrea- Yay! We all have off the 26th, maybe we could come down to Lompoc that day? We are pretty open as to when you visit.

  6. Hey Jess! Isn't it great when you start getting those calls because people know you're the "expert" beekeeper and they wan your help? I've had THREE so far this year! Glenn and Ol looked really professional getting the bees out of the gas head. About the idea of a bee sanctuary, I say go for the gusto! At least paying a small portion for the removal and to fund the bees upkeep is only fair, plus they find a new home and not end up being exterminated. I wish you luck and keep us all posted. I have a friend who owns a farm and he wants me to put hives on his land. Who knows..maybe North Carolina needs a sanctuary too? Take care!

  7. Great post. Great bee rescue. And great baby belly.

  8. Mark- I totally think North Carolina needs a sanctuary too! We could turn this into a nationwide thing. Wow, the possibilities are endless. :)

    Thanks Barbara!