I love that life at the farm immerses me in a constant stream of natural encounters sans humans. Although the farm is by no means remote, living on 50+ acres, outside the city limits, even if on a reasonably trafficked road, still offers a rich bounty of flora and fauna to observe and be immersed within.
It was clear by early February that there were honeybees somewhere close by the farmhouse. Initially they huddled around a water faucet, foraging the water that dripped from a slow leak in the spigot. As the weather warmed, they moved to the bird bath, renamed the bee bath, where they perched precariously along the steep sides.
By March, I had located a colony of honeybees that appeared to be nesting at the top of a brick column on the outside of the farmhouse. I wanted to have them safely removed because honeybees are a such precious natural resource. However, their continued presence is not good for the structural integrity of the farmhouse over the long term. So I started a search for someone to help.
I started with a text to a friend of my husband’s who lives nearby in west Alabama. He sent me a hyperlink to “find a local beekeeper” that lists beekeepers by state. I tried several of those Mississippi contacts and no one returned my emails or calls.
My next attempt at securing help with the honeybees was to email several contacts that were listed in the Mississippi Beekeepers Association newsletter. I had joined the MBA in December, 2020, when I knew we were buying the farm. One wonderful woman suggested I call the Mississippi State University Extension office, and also gave me the names of two nearby beekeepers. Eventually, after several more calls and emails, I found someone who not only trapped out the bees, but also kept me in fresh squash and green beans for several weeks as he did so.
Once the beekeeper got a ladder and took a look, it was clear that the bees were actually within the wooden beams! And based on a tattered bit of hardware cloth, it was evident that this was not their first time to set up house in that location.
Once he located the hive entrance, and confirmed that there were no other entrances, he installed a funnel that completely covered the entrance. This funnel allowed the bees to exit the hive, but prevented them from re-entering it (because they cannot pinpoint the precise location of the tiny hole in the funnel).
As the bees exited the funnel, they hung onto and eventually entered the man-made bee hive that was attached nearby. Over the course of about 10-14 days, the bees exited my farmhouse and entered the new hive.
It did not take them long to set up house and lay some eggs for a new queen – if I recall correctly they are the larger tunnel-like formations of a light gold color at the bottom left of the photo below. I am so thrilled to have the bees safely taken care of, and to have met a wonderful new friend. Many thanks for all you did, Stevie!!