Digging In

Insight into garden design, photography and growing life.

July 14, 2009

Wild America

We hadn't been in the new house for 48 hours before we met the locals. By that, I mean rabbits. I was warned we would have rabbits before we moved here. But they were not warned about us (meaning the dog). Our golden mix was delighted to find a bunny nest and was chasing the freaked-out little cuties around the backyard. Luckily, I was able to get to them before much damage was done. So I spent the next few days tending to the adorable furballs. Keeping them out of harm's way. Happily, the left the nest box on their own, and I haven't seen them since. Sorry I don't have any pictures to post. They were super cute, but I didn't want to stress them any more than necessary.

Shortly after the rabbits were handled, we had new guests. Bees. On our first Monday morning at the house, construction workers started grading the empty lot next door. After one pass with the skid steer, the work abruptly stopped. Then I saw the most interesting site, cottonwood tuffs or dirt flying through the air and organizing in my front yard. What?!? No, wait, it's a bee swarm! And they're swarming before my front door. Now they are heading into the water shut-off box in my front flowerbed! Are you kidding me? This is crazy. 

So it seems the construction disrupted a bees' nest in the ground next door. Now those sweet (thankfully) honeybees set up shop in a box in my flowerbed. I'm all for bees. Great pollinators in need of all the help they can get. I just didn't want to host them so close to (inches from) home. 

Well, we finally found an available bee keeper to remove the majority of our honeybees. Dr. Dean Hansen, a large and small animal vet for 32 years, was great. He came over late on a Friday night, donned his full beekeeper's whites, and got to work. Since it was dark, all the bees would be in their new "hive." Dr. Dean then used a crowbar and a painter's scrapper to remove as much of the comb as possible. He put the comb and two handfulls of honeybees (approximately 5,000) into coolers in the back of his pickup. He hoped to integrate them into another half-hive box had had going on his property. Like many beekeepers I discovered, Dr. Dean is quite a generous and interesting person. 

After he was done removing what he could and the bees once again calmed down, Dr. Dean showed us a portion of the honeycomb he removed. The honey was the lightest I'd ever seen, and so sweet. Can't get any fresher either. So we've already enjoyed our first (and probably last) honey harvest at the house. 

I do have a few worker bees remaining in the box. But I'll let them stay. It's not likely they will make it through the winter, but they aren't bothering anyone. Wonder what will show up next?