Tag Archives: Africanized bees

Bee Removal From a House -The Easiest Way


Posted by Cassie

Bee removal 2

Bees are a way of life here and like many things we were initially freaked out about when moving here (have you seen the rats?! haha) we have taken them on as a learning opportunity. We love bees and all the work they do. They pollinate so many of our beautiful flowers and fruit trees that there is no doubt that we want to help them as much as possible.

Tropical gardens flowers
Some of the beautiful flora we grow here

Pomarrosa flowerFlor de Pomarrosa

Bilimbe flower
Our first bilimbe flowers!

Berry thingsA wild currently unknown tree with beautiful red berries (anyone venture a guess?)

However, we really don’t want them to be living inside our walls. I wasn’t too surprised when I walked past the shed and saw a few bees entering the drain area of the wall. I knew exactly what was happening. We have had so many bees building homes in the cavities of the wood house that this was kind of expected. We have in the past hired people to come and take the bees away. And some people will use poison, but there is one other way to get the bees out of your house without actually touching them or harming them! And it is by far the easiest and cheapest!

Cassie and Kitty crop
Kitty and I are on a bee safari!

Bee time
Britton (and Kitty) getting down to bzzzzness

Cover yourself so that the bees can’t sting you and then just simply open up the cavity and walk away! In one day they will be gone. Bees need to have protection on both sides, so if one side is open, they will have no choice but to leave. And that is exactly what happened with this hive.

Bee time hiveIEmpty cavity
Lots of bees! And then one day later they are gone! Easy peasy!

The next level in this game would be to actually handle the bees and put them into a beehive where we could then harvest some of their honey. But for now we are pretty proud to be able to do this ourselves! We’ve come a long way since our first house bee hives!

Here’s a funky fun video of this easiest of bee removals. (Check out 2:45 for a close up of all the bees)

 

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Bees in a Jar


Posted by Britton

Today as I was walking from the cabana down to the coop with the daily catch of fallen mangoes for the compost pile I got a bit of a surprise.  A bee up and stung me in the ear!  I dropped all the mangoes and ran while the bruised and over-ripe fruit started rolling down the hill.  At about the same time the water hose popped and sprung a leak!

Cassie said I looked like a cartoon with my flailing about, yelling and running.  As we were going back towards the cabana there were more bees bumping us, giving us that tell tale warning that they are going to attack.

We got in the cabana and shut the door….. “Holy smokes!  What the hell was that?”  Had we stepped on one on the way down to the coop?  We normally don’t get stung by the few bees that visit the yard, especially having cleared out all the previous hives living within the wood house and the trunk of the old mango tree.  Bees are supposed to only sting when they feel threatened or if the hive is under attack.

After about 10 minutes and looking at my stung ear as it swelled we decided to go back out and see if we could figure out what was going on.  We went up on top of the cabana because it offers a good view.  We weren’t up there 5 minutes and we started getting bumped again by bees.  We ran.  We got back in the cabana and decided that there was something up and that we would give them some time to calm down.  We went to town for some food, groceries and another mower blade.

When we went to let the chickens out Cassie spotted what was causing all the commotion.

Swarm (2)
Bee Swarm (click to enlarge)

There were quite a few bees on one of the Mexicola avocado tree leaves, so we must have a swarm on our hands.  This is a very small swarm by swarm standards, actually tiny.  This was a perfect opportunity for me to use my newbee bee keeping skills!  I went and grabbed a jar, some scissors, gloves and the bee veil.

It didn’t take very long, and I didn’t get stung but there is a queen in with the swarm.  Not sure where it came from or why it is so small, but it all went well and put an end to the bee sting mystery and I gained 5 experience points in my bee skills!  I would rather do this with a small amount of bees to start with.  If there were hundreds of bees it would have been more intimidating but I think even then I would be up to the task.

We don’t have an empty hive yet, but now we think we should have one around for the next swarm opportunity.  For this group I am just glad they aren’t going to end up inside the walls of the house and I wanted to take care of a potential issue as well as some aggressive bees in the yard. Bees are not known for being aggressive when they swarm.  I think it is possible they were fighting with another hive in the base of the big mango we took down a few weeks ago. There were some bees flying super fast all over today.

Bees in a jar
Bees in a Jar

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The Bee Adventure: Part Three


Posted by Cassie

Yesterday we had three more hives removed that had taken over our house and yard. This is the third time we’ve had to have bees removed, so we are becoming more and more comfortable around them. However, we want to remove the weird bathroom from the deck as well as a dead mango tree that had been taken over by vines and bees. Also, we would get bumped a few times by them and Britton had been stung on the neck, so we were finally ready to deal with the bees (again).

IMG_4645 IMG_4648 Bedroom hive, bathroom hive

We had thought about trying to take them out ourselves, but we just weren’t quite to that level yet. So we called up Enrique again and he came the same day! He said he would take two of the hives that were in the house, but not the one in the tree because they were fully African (all bees in the tropics now are somewhat Africanized but some are interbred with domestic honeybees). Those in the tree, he said, he would have to kill.
Monster bee tree
Monster tree covered in vines had the African bees

So we have now had a total of seven! huge hives removed from this property! I know they say that the bee population has been declining, but definitely not here on our wild property it seems. We would love to keep bees (somewhere other than in our living space) but we just are not to that point yet. I did ask Enrique if we could take back a hive some time in the future and he said yes. He said he has about 70 hives on his finca in Añasco! He also knows quite a lot about agriculture and we may use his services in that too!

There are quite a few lost bees still swirling around right now, but hopefully that won’t be too long and we can start on the next steps. In the mean time we are enjoying our literally home-made honey.

IMG_4653

Because we are getting more and more comfortable (relative to the first time we found out there were bees in our house), we managed to video the process of Enrique taking out the hive this time and it is pretty fascinating (at least we thought so).

Enrique’s Spanish was a little difficult for me to understand, but I think I got the gist of it. I am still trying to pick up all the nuances of Puerto Rican Spanish because it is quite different from the Spanish spoken in Colorado. Britton doesn’t know the difference, but he is learning too! When Enrique warned him “No venga” Britton smartly asked me what that meant and now probably won’t forget that that means not to come close -especially when there are angry bees flying about. lol

 

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Killer Bees in Puerto Rico?


Posted by Britton

Well this episode of our Puerto Rican adventure is coming to a close.  We fly out tonight and head back to Colorado.  It’s simply an indescribable experience to go thru what we have.  We’ve basically started our life’s movie back up.  In this movie there are new characters, new adventures and new challenges to overcome.

When we bought the house we knew that wood wasn’t desireable and put our offer in with the intent of tearing down the house that current sits atop the property.  We have gone back and forth in our minds if tearing it down or fixing it up is the best idea.  Being here for a few weeks we’ve seen some of the issues with a wooden house.  They aren’t the safest place to be in a hurricane, they are more prone to pest issues, the wood doesn’t last very long in comparison to cement. 

It was kind of a suprise when we saw bees living in the upper bedroom walls of the house.   Not something we had planned on. 


Bees on the outside of the house trying to get in (click for larger view)

Cassie and I had taken a bee keeping class in Colorado so we do have just a small amount of information about bees.  Here in Puerto Rico the chances are very good that these are the African interbred version -Africanized bees- also known, by the less-informed, as killer bees.  In our classes they had informed us that “killer bees” are more aggressive towards European hives and attackers.  They are more likely to leave their hive and form new ones as well.  But their stings are not more deadly or anything like that. They are pretty much the same just more likely to survive/thrive in tropical environments. For traditional bee keepers they are less desireable because they are not as docile and in Colorado it’s just too cold.  If they abandon their hive they have less food to make it thru the cold and they die.

Cassie called the university (Mayaguez) and got ahold of a local bee keeper.  Jose came out to the  house and assessed the situation.  Apparently there are 4 separate colonies of bees in the walls upstairs!  LOL.  Cassie and I were kind of shocked.  I mean, we knew there would be unexpected problems but we just hadn’t thought of bees.  Lizards?  Sure.  Cockroaches?  Sure.  But bees? We hadn’t thought of THAT!

This is apparently a problem with the wood houses.  These bees have been living there for a very long time.  One of the colonies has ~30,000 bees.  We spoke to the previous caretaker and he said that Kathy (the previous owner who passed away in the house) lived with the bees and wouldn’t move or kill them.  He said she was a “hippy”..lol.  I can believe that she didn’t have much of an issue with them.  We were in the bedroom several times and they just went about their honey business not really minding us at all.  Still though….I’d want them gone if we were to try and live in the wood house.

Jose (the bee guy) turned out to be a really cool guy.  Very friendly and energetic.  We even went to his place of work where they do agricutural research for the University of Mayaguez:

He gave us about 30 mangos and we bought a few trees there for the property.  When we got back home we planted them.


We’re excited to see how big these grow when we get back!

It was a lot of fun to learn about new plants (which we are constantly doing) from people who live here.  Katrina Kruse has been helpful in sharing her experiences with growing various plants/fruits.  It’s very different than home and we feel like little kids asking what everything is.  “What’s that?” ,”What’s that taste like?” ,”What’s that called again?”

Well back to the bees…. We weren’t sure what to do but we figured even if we tear down the house, the bees would have to be removed.  Well Jose and his friend Moses came over to start removing them because they wanted the hives!  It was quite an experience.


Moises and Jose in the beehive part of the house and outside

Once the got the wall opened up here is what there was:


Cassie is smiling but was actually freaking out because a bee was crawling on her leg at this moment

Since they’ve removed the hive we’ve been stung a few times.  Before that we didn’t have any problems.  I assume they let out the pheromones that let the other bees know the hive is under attack.  The remaining bees are picking up on this.  Bee stings hurt!


After the bees have been removed


A piece of the comb

We have so much more to write about.  We found out more from the caretaker about Kathy, we have more stories about the bee keepers and a few other side adventures!  This will take another week to really try to explain! We’re really enjoying life here in Rincon even with all the unknowns and are not ready to come back! This has been a kick (or is it sting)!

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