In the Garden: Evicting the bees
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT ” At this moment, a honey bee, a bumble bee, and a shiny black wasp are navigating from floret to floret around the chives blossoms, which are just beginning to set seeds. The garden is alive with bees from the instant the first snow crocus opens in February until the last aster fades in October.
When I get a bee call, I drop whatever I am doing, grab my camera and binocs, and hurry next door. It has been exactly one month since the colony of honey bees that occupy the belfry of the neighbors’ steeple has split, forming a swarm in the lilacs across the street, and then disappearing a day later.
The bees have swarmed twice more since then, and each time, Scott, our neighborhood self-described fledgling beekeeper, has dropped whatever he was doing, grabbed his bee box and protective suit, and hurried next door to capture the swarm, hoping to establish two hives in his yard. I think he is becoming an old hand rather faster than he anticipated.
The neighbors had planned to evict their bees. Understandably, even the most curious, unflappable of homeowners, happy to have a wonderful natural science lesson conducted in situ, really don’t want a hive of bees permanently on the premises. On Saturday, Scott recruited a visiting expert from Boulder to help him extract the remaining colony from the belfry wall. Together they opened the wall, sucked up the bees with a gentle bee vacuum for relocation, and removed the combs while spectators watched.
Chunks of waxy honeycomb were offered for tasting, each hexagonal cell dripping with clear, golden honey, sweet, delicate and delicious. Nectar for the gods, from the gods! The excellence of the honey reflects the strength of the hive and the quality and plenitude of the forage. That this valley has an abundance of nectar- and pollen-rich flowers can be attested to by my husband, who has allergies.
I don’t know if a queen was captured and if this is the end of the colony and the story. Will I have fewer honey bees in my garden this summer because the Homestead Drive hive is gone? Perhaps there will be more than ever, as each swarm in the neighborhood becomes a new colony. For all I know the prime swarm relocated to my garden and will surprise me when I stumble into it.
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.