Friday, May 5

{Friday Photo HORROR}: "Bees In The Attic!"

Today I am not posting my {Friday Photo Bliss} snapshots-that-make-me-happy post. Instead I am posting a {Friday Photo HORROR} snapshots-that-give-me-more-gray-hair-and-several-panic-attacks post. These photos are all from the last few days.

I love honeybees. They are so beautiful and incredibly necessary pollinators. I always tell my kids we have to enjoy them because they are an endangered insect.

Last week I noticed that we had a few honey bees buzzing around the third floor office/exercise/guest /video game/sewing/ craft room. I also saw several dead ones on the window sill and on the floor. Since I am such a bee-lover I quickly rushed around with a glass and piece of paper to rescue the living ones before they also met an untimely death.

The next morning we found around 20 dead bees up there on the floor and the bee problem seemed to be over.

Two days later I was working on my computer and heard this strange buzzing sound coming from the window across from me.

Curious, I walked over there to investigate.

10:16 AM: When I looked out all I could see was a giant swarm of bees!

10:17 AM: I ran outside and and noticed the bees seemed to be gathering on the corner of our house.

10:22 AM: The swarm of bees was getting massive!

At this point I completely freaked out and ran inside and started searching on the internet. I knew this was a bee swarm, but were they just taking a little coffee-and-nap break before moving on or were they using my house as a new hive?

I found the 24/7 emergency number of a local beekeeper who will remove swarms from your home and placed a call, but he didn't answer and I had to leave a message.

I also sent a few frantic text messages to Paul, my mommy, and my best friend.

11:11 AM: After all of my internet research and a few panic attacks, I went back outside and noticed that most of the bees were gone.

Or were they???

The beekeeper hadn't returned my call (his 24/7 Emergency Line was bogus, he never called me back) so I called another local beekeeper. Unfortunately she had a broken leg (she fell off a ladder trying to rescue bees on a second floor of a house) and wasn't doing swarm-removal, but she was able to give me some advice.

I told her I thought the swarm had moved on because most of the bees were gone in less than an hour. She started laughing and said that in that time, thousands and thousands of bees can move into the walls. So even though I didn't see many bees, they could simply be inside enjoying their new home.

She told me to watch the area the next day or two before calling out a beekeeper, and if I continue to see bees they had moved in. If they were already in the walls a few days wouldn't make much of a difference. She also said I could go up there and see if they were going in and out of any holes.

I examined the bees not-so-closely, but they all look the same to me so I couldn't tell if they were coming or going or just hanging out with their friends. So we decided to wait.

I tried to relax and not stress about my home-invasion and went on a nice hike with the family.

But all I could think about was BEES, BEES, and MORE BEES!

Later that evening I made the unfortunate decision to go back on the internet and read about bees coexisting with humans in their homes.  That was a mistake and only stressed me out more. I already imagined that I had bees in the walls and between the floors and that they would have to tear out the outside ceder-siding and the inside sheetrock to get them out and it would be thousands and thousands of dollars of repair jobs to put my house back together.

I have a very vivid imagination.

It didn't help that many of Paul's Facebook "friends" reported similar issues and had to spend $1200-$1500 to remove the bees from their homes. Many of them received the world's most expensive honey after the removal, but that did not reassure me at all.

The next morning we went out there and only noticed a few bees buzzing around and we thought they had moved on to a nice new home. But then I noticed that the weather was quite cool and did an internet search and read that bees don't like to fly when the temperatures are under 60F.

Sure enough, a few hours later and a few degrees warmer we saw approximately 50-100 bees swarming around the roof again.

It had been 48-hours and that blasted beekeeper had not returned any of my frantic calls (four total). Paul was ready to climb up there with a big spray-can of poison and I freaked out and told him he couldn't kill sweet endangered honeybees! Not to mention they would swarm him and he would most likely fall off the balcony. It costs more to put back together a broken human than a broken house...

I will admit at that point of time I secretly hated all bees and wanted to go up there with a flame-thrower and some gasoline.

I went back on the internet and found a local bee removal company that had great reviews and they assured me they could take care of my problem. Since the bees had just made their home I could have them exterminated for $275. The company wouldn't remove any honeycomb (which will attract future bees and is a nice feast for animals and insects like roaches, not something I want in my walls) and they might not get the queen, but it had a 3-month warranty.

They could also perform a bee-removal but it would be $600-$800 MINIMUM, depending on where the bees had set up their hive and if ladders were involved. This of course would include tearing out whatever part of the house was in front of the hive.

Paul said do the extermination, but I was not happy about that solution at all. I might temporarily hate all honeybees, but I knew once they were gone from my house I would love them again with my whole heart and regret killing them.

The beekeeper/bee murderer showed up early the next morning and started investigating the situation. He would let us know whether he thought it best to kill or remove them. 

He pulled out his ladder and checked out the eaves on the second floor and said bees were definitely getting in through three tiny holes.

Then he asked to go up into the attic.

Eureka! Bees, bees, bees!!! Paul was up there with him and they found a HUGE mass of bees hanging out at the top of our attic.


The beekeeper said he thought the bees might have a second nest in the roof eaves where they were entering and suggested we should go the "tear-out-whatever-needed-to-remove-and-rescue-bees" rather than the "murder-cute-sweet-honeybee" route and quoted a reasonable price. Reasonable when you are freaked out by a massive bee-invasion and want them GONE.

Heck, I would have given my first-born son to him to get rid of those bees. OK, I am joking, but I wanted those bees as far away from my house as possible.

Paul and I looked at each other and said yes instantly and the beekeeper went to work.

The boys and I, safely inside, watched him remove the wood from the eaves. Bees started swarming everywhere!

And there they are! He estimated we had around 15,000-20,000 busy bees in the eaves and attic and they were already making honey. It had only been three days since the initial infestation!

I don't have any photos of the removal because he asked that we stay inside, but he took out this funny vacuum-thingie and vacuumed up the bees and put them in this little cage for transfer to their new bee-sanctuary home. Then he cleaned out all of the hive and put in some powdery poison and sealed everything back up.

He gave us the pretty new beeswax hive and also showed us some old hive he found in the attic. Apparently the previous homeowners had bees and decided to go the poison route and never had the hive removed. No wonder the bees came back!

We were all fascinated to see the tiny bits of honey and pollen in the hives. I told the boys this was the world's most expensive homeschooling science class. ;-) 

Our house is now bee-free and we have a three year warranty if they decide to move back in, so all is good. 

And I love bees again. But I will never look at them exactly the same way.

By the way, we have delicious local honey for only $100 per microliter. Stock up now, it is going fast!

And yes, I was inspired by  that horrible 80's book "Flowers in the Attic" for the title of this post. That was my generation's "50 Shades of Grade" and as teenagers we had a few dog-eared paperback copies we all passed around. I believe I read the entire series one summer. Those was the same years I was also reading everything by James Clavell, Stephen King and James A. Michener. I was a weird kid. And turned into a weird adult. ;-)

Have a great weekend!!!

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  1. Holy smokes!!! How neat and scary at the same time. If you are like me, you'll be hearing phantom bee buzzing for weeks. So glad they are gone but not destroyed.

    1. I love seeing you here Amanda!!! Yes, it stressed me out to no end, but today I saw a honey bee and didn't have flashbacks, so all is good. Until they invade the next time. ;-)

  2. WOW! Those pictures! I am quite fearful of bees and other assorted flying critters. What a wonderful and humane solution to this unexpected problem.

    1. Scarette, I am so happy they do rescue honey bees. I didn't want to pay for it, but it made me feel so much better.

  3. Oh my goodness. You guys certainly had quite the adventure this past week, didn't you?! I'm glad it is all cleared up but just seeing the pics of the bees swarming outside and in the attic was enough to give me the heebee jeebies. Though I am happy to see that you did find a humane way to relocate them and thankfully the warranty is for three years so that must help with your peace of mind (and pocketbook)!

    Enjoy your weekend if it still Sunday/Monday!

    Lisa D.

    1. Those photos still freak me out Lisa! And I am so happy they have the warranty. However, if the bees find a new way to enter the house and set up a home somewhere else we aren't covered. So we need to make sure we caulk carefully outside.

    2. Well fingers crossed you get all the little holes! I'll BEE thinking about you..(hee, hee, sorry I couldn't resist).

      Lisa D.

  4. I freak out if one bee gets in the house when we open the door. I would probably die of heart failure if this happened. I'm pretty pro bee if they are outside. I'm glad you were able to relocate them instead of "murder" them. That's a lot of honey bees.

    1. I feel exactly the same way! I love them once again, far away from my attic. ;-)

  5. Wow I would have freaked out but the beeswax hives are pretty cool!

    1. I am keeping an eye out to make sure no more bees have moved in. :-)

  6. Wowzers!!! I was completely glued to reading your post. I too would have done anything to save the bees and keep them safe, but would also be freaking out about them in my house like that. Good to know about bees returning if an old beeswax hive is left behind. Thanks for sharing the photos too....helps us to relate to the situation. God Bless!

    1. I am so glad you liked my post! I am so happy we didn't have to kill the bees and they were able to save them. But I am so happy they aren't in my house anymore!


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