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  1. #1
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    Default Local bees invade festival

    A bit of a long story...

    I've been doing a local festival for about the past five years. This festival has two events per year, a spring show and a fall show. The setting of the festival is right in the middle of a residential district (high density of homes with VERY tiny lots). Throughout the years that I've been doing the festival there has never been problems with local bees coming around bothering the festival participants. This past show was a very different story. I typically bring an OB hive and offer honey samples of a variety of local honeys. This year our tent was mobbed by local bees - probably about 50 - 70 bees at all times throughout the day. Of course, most people handled it pretty well, but there were several that were quite freaked out by the bees buzzing around. Of course the OB hive and even the slightest scent of honey brought them into my tent like crazy. Bees were even crawling on the honey sticks trying to get honey. Fortunately no one was stung at my tent, but it was a nerve wracking event. Unfortunately other were not as lucky. The snow cone guy was stung, and an artist a few tents down was also stung. Many people at the festival were blaming me for not containing the bees in my observation hive. Of course that totally false as my OB hive is completely secure and was not the source of the bees outside the hive.

    Last Fall at this same show a guy from the local neighborhood leaned across the table and whispered "I've got a hive right over there..." pointing to the block adjacent to the park. He was clearly a newbee, and I said in reply that you need to manage them well come next spring so that your neighbors don't freak out at the first swarm. Well, that next spring the swarm came and our club was called in to retrieve the swam. The neighbors were not happy and tried to blame our club for the events that occurred. FYI, the owner of the hive is not a member of our club. Fast forward to this past weekend, these bees were very likely from the same guy. We never had problems with bees in prior years. Another piece of information is that the city in question has an ordinance restricting beekeeping unless the lot size is 5 acres.

    Although being a strong supporter of keeping honeybees, the events of this past weekend enlightened me to the obvious perils of keeping bees in a highly populated urban setting. The festival coordinator was VERY upset with the situation. Trashcans were swarming with honeybees. Bees were landing on everything that seemed to be even a remote source of food. I do not know the total sting count, but there had to be many given the huge crowds and the number of bees flying around the park.

    Seeking general comments.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Thank you for pointing out the positive aspects as a beekeeper. Suffolk is probably creating their own problem by restricting beekeeping to large farms. Stealth beekeepers will do nothing to improve the situation any more than ordinances based on ignorance. The events that occured would make an excellent opportunity to point out to the Suffolk Council how to bring their ordinance up to contemporary standards. I lived in Norfolk for over a decade and my kids are still there in Norfolk and Chesapeake. To think much has changed since British occupation requires gross denial. I could not even have a compost pile on an acre in Norfolk.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Event was not held in Suffolk.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    I was wondering because Suffolk is pretty rural. I rarely get off 58 just passing through! You did not say whether it was Portsmouth, Gloucester, Smithfield, Yorktown, Newport News, or which town.

  5. #5
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    Polk Co, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    What a shame this happened. Now they will be very sure of their ordinance restricting bee keepers.

    You may want to talk to the guy who pointed out his hive and mention that some bees were causing a stir and that he may want to keep his girls penned up the day of festivals so that no one points the blame at him.

    Your story is also a heads up to newbies like me who live in town and never pay attention to when there is a parade or festival near by..... "honest officer, they were here ALL day!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Yes, festival coordinators and local businessmen will get the attention of city council well before a urban beekeeper will.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Have a sign posted by your OB at future events that states that your bees cannot escape their secure hive, but that local honeybees may be attracted due to scent, etc. and you have no control over that. Also mention that casually to your customers. Word may get around that they are not your bees!
    Any wasps show up, too?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    If its a beekeeper or feral hive in the area, the results would be the same. If there isn't much blooming the bees will go for the honey at the festival.
    Dan

  9. #9
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    Belews Creek NC
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    I was in sort of the same situation at a softball tourney. There was a local beek that had his hives by the entrance to the park. Had them right in front of his house by the curb. Well the short of it,there were probably 1000 people there and most drinking some kind of sugar drink the bees went after all the cans and drinks. Not their fault,but suffered greatly when all the coaches were spraying wasp killer at the trash cans full of bees. Moral of the story. If I was that beek,a tournament was scheduled I would net the hives. One,dont want city council to run me out and second dont want half my bees poisoned and with such a fiasco,all of the participants really hated bees and would love to have them banned in the city. A little common sense goes a long way. Peace Dave

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    I've done this same festival many many times and no problem. Sure there are likely feral colony somewhere in the city, but I know for a fact that there is a beekeeper in the block adjacent to the park. BTW, the bees were going for anything that had sugar - not just honey. The trash cans were full of half finished sodas and snow cones. An absolute feast for the bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by KQ6AR View Post
    If its a beekeeper or feral hive in the area, the results would be the same. If there isn't much blooming the bees will go for the honey at the festival.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Let's assume that I was able to get the word out to everyone in the park that the bees flying around are not mine. You can take it even one step further and assume that I wasn't even present trying to sell honey and educate people about bees. The problem was still there. People were still getting stung and lots of people were very angry with the situation. The police got involved and called animal control. Overall, not great evidence to support urban beekeeping.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bee Bliss View Post
    Have a sign posted by your OB at future events that states that your bees cannot escape their secure hive, but that local honeybees may be attracted due to scent, etc. and you have no control over that. Also mention that casually to your customers. Word may get around that they are not your bees!
    Any wasps show up, too?
    Last edited by AstroBee; 10-20-2010 at 08:13 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    No, it wouldn't have changed the physical situation, but people's perception of you and your bees which also seemed to be a concern. I wasn't implying that this alone would fix the entire problem.

    More into the meat and potatoes of the entire situation....
    According to you, there was improper disposal of sweet garbage around. The bees would have been there even if you had not been due to this. That is an area that can be worked upon by the people in charge of and those participating in the festival. On the beekeepers end, well that is something he should be made aware of and suggestions made. He probably doesn't even know. And, then there is the possibility that some were ferals....

    It is usually the wasps that bother our community festivals. Again, open trash containers (sweets and meat) and wasps wanting to land on the plate of food you are presently eating. Who doesn't hate that!


    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    The police got involved and called animal control.
    What happened with this?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Yeh, I can picture the police and animal control getting involved. Like the day half the force in Norfolk responded to a bomb threat on a bus on Hampton Blvd, riding around on their Segways, standing around, while the perps robbed a bunch of banks just down the road. I can see billy clubs swatting and donuts flying! Hey, my daughter is a cop there. I wonder who they wrote tickets to?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    I did not get the officer's name, but he called animal control in my presence. I do not know if there have been any further developments. I do know that the festival coordinator was VERY upset and has strong connections with city officials.

    We've had lots of varied discussions about city ordinances (for better or worse), but this event is clearly a case where you can trace the steps on how such ordinances are created. I think that anyone planning to keep bees in a highly populated urban setting needs to really understand the implications of their hobby and that unintended consequences happen which can trigger cities into taking actions.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    As a newbie, let me ask........ could this local beekeeper have kept his honeybees home by putting sugar water feed on them prior to and during the festival? Would that keep most of them from the festival area? There are hive nets also that can be used temporarily, right?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    To keep the bees and yellow jackets away from your booth just slice some cucumbers and place them on the tables. I have done this when there was a hive in a tree nearby, it works. Then you can just tell people, "See, they are not mine."
    Married 23 years and still makin honey. www.Johnshoney.com
    John, WA9WJG

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    The gentleman was pretty irresponsible. There is probably another swarm from his hive too. It really makes it more difficult for good beekeepers.
    We have festivals every month at USF Botanical Gardens, plant festivals, a Honey Tasting Event featuring the bees, and monthly bee workshops. All these events are standing room only and almost everyone strolls past the bee hives. They even crowd over the hives for the practical portion of the bee workshops. I think we have started to convince, at least the media that not all bees in Florida are Africanized. Fox and ABC ran stories this year from the Gardens.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Sure. Of course outside temps will have a role in how this can be done, but for this particular event the temps were very modest (peak about 70). Given this he could have stuffed #8 hardware cloth in the entrance and thrown a hive top feeder on and things would have fine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bee Bliss View Post
    As a newbie, let me ask........ could this local beekeeper have kept his honeybees home by putting sugar water feed on them prior to and during the festival? Would that keep most of them from the festival area? There are hive nets also that can be used temporarily, right?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Cucumbers?? Please explain why this works.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Cunningham View Post
    To keep the bees and yellow jackets away from your booth just slice some cucumbers and place them on the tables. I have done this when there was a hive in a tree nearby, it works. Then you can just tell people, "See, they are not mine."

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Local bees invade festival

    Doesn't look like it's working in this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA5qwZniu38

    Maybe it's a different kind of cucumber?

    Adam

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