Early Thursday morning I received an e-mail from Katheryn, a resident of Covina, California. She wrote to ask if I would be willing to look at some photos of insects that had moved into her backyard. She said that she was, “trying to identify the insects to build a case for protecting them.” That intrigued me.
It turns out that Katheryn is a naturalist at heart, but her son is afraid of bees and wasps and her husband isn’t exactly a fan. Nevertheless, she didn’t want anything to happen to the insects without getting a positive i.d. So I told her to send the photos along. I didn’t say so, but I thought they were probably some kind of wasp that I had no hope of identifying. Still, there was no harm in looking.
A little later, I received another e-mail in which Katheryn said the insects, which she thought were bees, seemed docile and that she had gotten within a few feet of them with no problem. I opened the photo to find a lovely swarm of honey bees. How cool is that? I couldn’t have been more excited if the swarm was sitting in my own backyard.
I began to explain that it looked like the swarm had settled in a tree and that it would probably stay there for a day or two until it decided on a new home. In fact, I actually wrote that before I realized there was a second attachment to the e-mail. That attachment turned out to be a five-second video.
I played and replayed the video until I was sure about what I was seeing: fresh white comb hanging from the branches of the tree. I deleted my response and started again–those bees weren’t going anywhere. They were already home.
In subsequent e-mails I explained that she could probably find a beekeeper who would be happy to come and get the colony but, much to my surprise, Katheryn is thinking about it. Maybe she will call someone to remove the colony or maybe she will become a beekeeper herself. Again, I couldn’t be more excited. In her words, the bees are “absolutely wonderful.” I absolutely agree.
So now I’m sitting here on pins and needles waiting to hear the next installment. It looks to me like the bees found their keeper instead of the other way around. Now that’s a new twist on beekeeping.