Interesting phone call Friday evening
I got a call early Friday evening. Seems that a fellow that logs trees had made a deal with a homeowner that while logging, he would cut down an old hemlock tree beside the homeowner's house. When they went to check it out to see about cutting it, that is when they noticed the bees coming and going.
Apparently the first call was to the local pest company. They aren't interested in killing honeybees if they can avoid, so gave my information to this guy.
After explaining that it was way too late in the year to do a cutdown and then do a cutout and after hearing the "branch" they were in was at least 24" in diameter, I informed the guy that if he could just block the entrance, they should be able to cut down what they needed to (so the tree wouldn't ever fall on the house) and just leave the stump there with the bees. I suggested wrapping a blanket around the tree and tying it up to keep the bees inside while the cutting was going on, but he wasn't too interested in doing it himself. What if I came and picked you up and drove you since you have the suit and everything so you don't get stung.
I told him, yeah, that would work. Give me a call once you plan on cutting it down, and you can pick me up the night before and I'll close up the entrance after dark.
By 8:30 Friday night he called me. We are planning on doing this tomorrow - can you do this tonight? "Well . . . . . I guess so." He said "Great, I need to get gas and I'll come pick you up." I gave him directions and he had a 30 minute drive to get to me. Then he had a 45 minute drive to get to the bee tree. He picked me up at 9:30.
The tree was massive. An old hemlock that the base of the tree was easily 4' in diameter. About 3' up the base turned into 3 massive branches - each about 24" in diameter. About 5' up, there was a 3" slit in the hemlock tree about 24" long (it had been struck by lightning at some point) where the bees were. And the bees there were just "hanging out" the comb was further up in the "branch" where I couldn't even see it.
I got on my equipment and got a large piece of screeen and starting at the top of the crevice - started stapling the screen to the tree. Amazingly the bees ddin't seem to mind - I only saw a few come flying out. It was a challenge to get the screen stapled to the tree without leaving a space. So once the screen was securely stapled on (as best as I could), I added 4" strips of cloth covering the edge of the screen. I hoped this would help the bees avoid finding any spaces that were left open - and since bees should be atracted to light - they should be more concerned with trying to get out of the screen rather than finding another way out.
I got back home around 12:30 and he asked "How much do I owe you?" I thought of this more of a mission of saving a colony of wild bees from extermination rather than a job and I said "Nothing." He said "No, I gotta pay you something - what do you need?" I figured $20.00 would cover it.
He wrote out a check for $40.00. Like I said, this wasn't for the money - and I had a great time talking to the guy while driving to and from the tree. Very interesting guy.
I warned him that even if I sealed it completely up, there could be up to 200 workers that happened to still be out in the fields at dark - and would be back in the morning looking for a way in.
He called me tonight to tell me how yesterday went. Apparently great. My screen job was a full success and there were only around 15 bees flying around trying to get back in. They got all branches cut off the tree and left the stump with the bees still inside. Once they were done, they tried peeling the screen off, but it was so securely fastened, they just used a knife on a pole to cut the screen open so the bees could come and go.
Eventually, the homeowner would like the stump cut completely down and this guy is talking about loading up the stump with bees and delivering it to my house so I can do the cutout at home when I have the time.
So, the bees were saved and I even got paid for something I totally enjoyed!