Stories & Tales - Hive Extermination

Hive Extermination The time has come Les did say To think of many things Of well stocked hives, and loads of stores But not of Black Bee stings

Hive Extermination

The time has come
Les did say
To think of many things
Of well stocked hives, and loads of stores
But not of Black Bee stings

You may recall, from the February newsletter, a couple of expeditions a few of your fellow club members made, to requeen a hive on the outskirts of Wainuiomata. Well, after more than one attempt, with the black bees winning every time, the decision was made to sacrifice this collection of killer bee relatives, collect their prolific honey stores, and call it quits.

Well – that was how it went in theory.

You may also recall that the interested bystander associated with these requeening exercises vowed and declared she would be unavoidably busy on any date the owner happened to nominate as ‘Black Bee Extermination Day’.

Unfortunately, the interested bystander forgot Thursday 26 August.

Assemble at L’s at the appointed time – some of us are late (typical woman!) Excuses are greeted with increduality so we give up explaining and pile into the van. Round to R’s to drag him screaming from his hidey hole, and off to the outback and dangers unknown (but guessed at!). R does gate duty (there are now six of them), and we park the van a good half kilometre from the hive site. L and R don the usual hive suits but, with the benefit of hindsight, and with memories of a recent encounter with a stray bee which resulted in three days of one-and-a-half shut eyes and a very fat face, the interested bystander dons two bee suits, as well as two other complete sets of clothing. Loud jeers, scoffing and words like ‘chicken’ are bandied about, but he who laughs last ….

L also chooses this moment to remember that he has forgotten the sack barrow. R and the interested bystander swap despairing looks – there is well over a tonne of hive boxes, lids, bases and tools, not to mention a 20 litre bucket of soapy water and the equivalent of an Agent Orange spray dispenser (on unwitting loan from the Ministry of Defence), to be lugged, and already L’s back is making protest noises, and we’re hardly out of the van yet!

Stagger over the crest of the rise with our armoury and supplies. The bees give us 5 minutes to lull us into complacency before launching their attack. They’re everywhere but suddenly L isn’t AND he’s taken the spray pack with him! A brief scuffle and R emerges jubilant from the fray clutching the spray bottle and pumping furiously while L hugs a fence post and mutters words like "damn back, sorry I can’t help you guys, I would like to" etc etc. You get the picture? It was the interested bystander’s idea to bring the smoker but unfortunately the bees love it and hasten back with their mates for more. Suddenly R (and the sprayer) is a very popular man, with both L and the interested bystander making grabs for the spray pack. However, eventually things settle down to removing frames, brushing bees off and popping frames into empty boxes which we then lug back to the van in quick succession while trying to avoid the soapy spray mist which L, seated on a hive lid, pumps constantly over us, the hive, our tools and, occasionally, the bees. Several refills from the bucket later, L instructs us to leave an empty hive box on site for the bees still out gathering. Our amazed queries are greeted somewhat sheepishly with the reply "well, I don’t like to think of the poor things having nowhere to go tonight when they return home and end up out in the cold and dying". Never mind that he has just dispensed summary justice to about 90,000 of their relatives! Now we know we are working with someone in need of critical care.

Finally the van is loaded and the site is clear: R lingers to dowse some militant hangers-on, the interested bystander negotiates the goat track shortcut down to the road while L manoeuvres the van along the 45 degree sidling back to the track. Reassemble at the gate where we try to make a very small carpet square cover a very large and noisy collection of angry tenants in the boxes in the back of the van.

Homewards bound with general musing as to entering the honey from these boxes in a Taste Guessing Competition at Bee Club – is it Palmolive Gold?, Sunlight? Morning Glory? No Frills? All in all, a big job well done, or so we think, until L happens to mention the Black Bees which appear to have taken over the hive in his back yard …

No matter what the day, I’m busy, I’m busy, I’M BUSY.

The Interested Bystander