Since our last story, a lot has been happening at our local bee tree! Thanks to the work of bee rescuers Dael Wilcox and his able assistant, Windsor Square neighbor Lauren Gabor, the relocation of the bees is essentially complete.
Normally, relocation of a bee hive of this scale (estimated at 50,000 bees) can take some time, so in order to speed things up a bit, Wilcox injected compressed air, smoke and essential oils into the tree, nudging the bees into leaving the hive sooner rather than later. According to Wilcox, some time between Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, the bees exited the hive with the queen!
Thanks to Lauren Gabor, for sharing her photos and the buzz on how all this happened:
“On Tuesday evening, Dale pumped smoke and non-toxic mineral oils through three small holes he bored into the tree. This doesn’t harm the bees but they don’t like it, and sense conditions are no longer ideal.
Wednesday we cordoned off the area and posted signs explaining what was happening.
It was a day of rest and regrouping. Some of the guards may have left to scout new places to go, leaving the new hive openings vulnerable to opportunistic (“robber”) bees after honey in the tree. This was the most intense day of activity at the bee tree.
There was chaotic movement, different than the normal in and out flight paths of an undisturbed hive, that indicated the bees were disoriented, only just learning and had not communicated exact coordinates of entrances to their bee cohorts. This could have included our bees as well as bees from several other hives within 3 mile radius (normal territory range).
The chaos continued even at evening time, when bees are normally settling down for the night, by 9 pm it was quiet.
Then when I turned around I saw a sizable cluster in the iron fence across from the tree! It was a ball shape, extending into bushes and very much alive. Keeping warm under the light. This was very unusual so I contacted Dael immediately thinking maybe the queen was inside. He told me to meet him at the bee tree at 8 a.m. the next morning. I was so happy to see the bees had not moved! As Dael explained, it was still too cool and dim for them to have awakened. And they had no where to go.
(According to Wilcox, the queen, unaccustomed to flying and pregnant, flew to the closest thing she could find, the light on the fence across the sidewalk where she found warmth and the hive stayed all night.)
Dael thought the queen was probably in the cluster. He climbed up to gently vacuum bees away looking for her.
The trap is still empty. He will look for her once the bees are in the vacuum box. Trying to find her still. After vacuuming all clustered bees, he removed the holding box and searched using flashlight to find the queen. Success!!!!!! The queen is here and I saw her!
Eventually the Queen was surrounded by a tight cluster of her minions. We fed them some honey Dael brought from Hollywood Hills and sprayed them with water. Later we packed ice in a gallon Ziplock bag to keep them cool until they are released into their new hive.
Dale will wait until evening to transfer them into their new hive box, so they don’t fly away.
Meanwhile the bee tree was buzzing with opportunistic robber bees that smelled honey, and with no guards left to protect hive! Dael vacuumed them up into another holding box. Because they have no queen, he will release them into the same new hive of our queen. He will integrate them by spraying non toxic oils to neutralize their scent, so they will serve the new queen. The new hive must be more than 3 miles from original to prevent the bees, who are programmed, from returning to this tree. They will now learn to identify with their new box, and make it their home.
As a recycling effort, Dale recommends unplugging the holes to let neighboring bees eat the honey stored in the tree so it doesn’t go to waste. (We can’t harvest it because it’s too difficult to get to it). For the next three days or so, it will be too hectic in and around the tree for any new colony to establish. The plan is to close up the tree by tomorrow evening.”
Wilcox told the Buzz it might take a few days more before he’s able to close up the tree, he’s hopeful he can do it by the weekend to make sure no bees take up residence and restart the hive.
Thanks to his and Gabor’s efforts, thousands of feral honey bees have been relocated to temporary hives since the work began last weekend.
Dael will send a photo of the Windsor Square queen bee in her new hive. We will be sure to share this close up photo of the queen in her new hive in a few days, possibly this weekend.
This is fascinating! Thank you for sharing good news in the ‘hood!