A Bee Story

Many of you may recall a message I posted a few weeks ago about a honey bee hive I discovered in one of the exterior walls of my house. Well here is an update.

A previous owner of my house had drilled a small hole though a wall of my house into my dining room. He did this to allow a television antenna to pass through. Well before I moved in they had removed the antenna and sealed up the inside wall with a plastic plug, but the small hole on the outside was left open. I was not aware of this hole until recently because of what follows.

I recently discovered that I have a honey bee nest in this wall of my house. The hive is well established and extends from the floor to the ceiling between the two studs. Great, just what I need, right? On a hot day the honey in there cooks up and I can smell it in my dining room. Well I thought about this for awhile. I didn't want to kill them because honey bees pollenate flowers, etc. and there would still be a ton of honey and beeswax in the wall that would attract ants and other bugs, so I decided to become a beekeeper. I got some books out of the library and then went to a local bee keepers supply place and bought a hive, bee suit and all the related paraphernalia. I talked to the supply place person, and read a section in one of the books, about how to lure bees out of a building. I set the hive up next to the entrance of the nest in the wall. I then attached the top of the hive to the nest opening with a section of flexible dryer hose. Now the bees have to go through my hive in order to exit their hive. I also bought this mechanical device called a "bee escape" that only allows bees to pass through it in one direction. I'm not using this yet. The plan is that hopefully, the bees will expand into my hive. If the original queen moves in there, or a new one does, I will install the bee escape between my hive and the wall nest. Then the bees will only be able to exit my wall, but not return. the ones that are in there will be forced to eat the existing honey stores in the wall. Well I just hooked up my hive to the nest a few days ago and that's the stage I was at 'till yesterday.

Today I came home from work and discovered that the bees were gnawing away at the sheet rock around the plastic plug on the inside wall. Apparently a lot of the bees weren't too happy about going through the plastic dryer hose. When I got home they had gnawed a 1/8 inch wide hole along the bottom of the plug, but it was not yet big enough for the bees to get through. I went up to get a closer look and was face to face with fuzzy little bee faces staring back at me. Their little antennae sticking through. So cute. I decided that that was enough of that and went and got some spackling compound out of the garage to seal up the hole. Well the only spackling compound I had was kind of old and pretty dried up, but I decided that I would try and use it anyway. I got a glob on the end of the spatula, but since it was pretty old, it wasn't very plastic. Also, I being pretty clueless, was not aware that the plastic plug was now loose because of the bees' gnawings. I applied the glob of spackling compound against the small hole and the unthinkable happened! Both the glob of spackling compound and the plastic plug fell through into the wall leaving a now 1 inch hole in the wall. I immediately put the flat blade of the putty knife over the hole and held it there. NOW what was I going to do? There I was holding a putty knife over a hole, with nothing to secure it with within arms reach, and perhaps 50,000 bees on the other side just waiting to come into my house. Well I quickly replaced the putty knife with the spackling compound container. I then pushed a chair up against the container to hold it there so I could leave the room. This held for about two seconds and fell off as I was leaving the room. Immediately hundreds of bees flew into my dining room. Talk about primal fear! Boy, was my heart pumping! The first thing the bees did was relieve themselves. Bees won't soil their own nest but wait 'till they get "outside". In the meantime I headed into my family room and put on my bee suit. I then went back into the dining room with a roll of duct tape and taped over the hole. I tried to brush off the wall most of the bees coming through, but there were so many that I ended up mushing one with the tape. I now had the hole sealed. There were still hundreds of bees in my dining room. Luckily almost all the bees except one or two flew up into a nearby window, just like any other bug looking for the light, to try and exit. I closed the drapes behind them. I then pondered the situation for a minute or two. I then went into my garage and brought out my trusty shop vac! They were no match for it. I had all the bees sucked up within a few minutes. Whew, what a relief! I wouldn't recommend this for those with weak hearts!

Copyright:   Bruce Bowen    1991