Bees In The Chimney
Our blog posts go from one extreme to the other, with yesterday’s post about bees surviving freezing weather in the depths of winter. Today, we are focusing on Geraldton, Western Australia, where the temperature is a sweltering 40°C or 104°F and it is the height of summer.
Gabby Forrester took over her parents’ home about eight years ago. She knew that bees were living in the chimney of the house and decided to leave them alone. She said the bees had resided in the blocked off and unused chimney for twenty years, and her parents used to spray them, but that she decided she and the bees could cohabitate in peace, so she has never sprayed them.
Geraldton is located about 280 miles north of Perth, and temperatures are brutal this summer. The relentless heat has taken its toll on many things, including the honey that Gabby's bees had so carefully produced in her chimeny. When Gabby found honey trickling down the outside of her chimney, she called in Brian Kelly, who has been a beekeeper for 15 years, to see what was going on in the chimney.
The following video is not connected with Gabby's bee removal. There are several ways to remove bees from a chimney, including smoking them out and vacuuming them out. The fellow in this 2:54-minute video shoveled them out, which seems like the hardest way.
Although Brian has relocated other problematic beehives to his own property over the years, he had never dealt with a chimney relocation before. He usually gets the swarms he goes after, and his hives have grown from 5 to 25 now.
It turns out the entire chimney was stuffed with honeycomb. And unfortunately, both the honey and honeycomb have melted in the sizzling Australian heat and started to ooze out of the walls. Brian was unable to get all the bees out, but he did reduce the amount by about half.
And Gabby is happy to continue living with the other half. Knowing the plight of the world bees, it never occurred to her to spray them. Brian also doesn’t spray bees.
Western Australia is known to have a healthier bee population than many places in the world these days, mostly disease and pest-free. Brian says the bees in his area seem to be stronger and don’t suffer from the problems so many bees around the world are dealing with, because people are aware and don’t fumigate in the area.
Meanwhile, Gabby is thinking about installing a tap to see if she can get some of the honey out of the chimney.
It would be curious to know how this melting of the honey affects the honeybees and the hive. Is the hive flooded with watery honey? Will the melted honey cause a problem for the bees or affect their ability to survive next winter? So many questions, but few answers.
If you have answers to any of these questions, please share with everyone over on our Facebook page.
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