I got a call while Iím loading my truck and about to be on the way to check on a trap-out I set up a while back and to pick up another one that was ready to bring home. The call is from a construction general contractor asking if I do bee removal. I say yeah I help when and where I can, what type of situation do you have?
He says they are clearing some land right next to a subdivision and just bull dozed down a tree with a hive and now they need someone to do something with the bees. My initial response was . . . is anyone hurt and where are the bees now?
He let me know that the tree was close to some houses and that no people were hurt, but a couple of dogs got hit pretty hard by the bees and were still down. His main concern was the neighborhood, so using enclosed dozers, they pushed the ďbee treeĒ with a bunch of other trees and brush away from the back of the houses and into a pile about 200 yards from the privacy fences of the homes that border the property.
It just so happened that the trap-out job I was going to check on was within a few miles of these guys, so I offered to stop by and have a look. On the way, all hell broke lose with the weather around here. It slowed traffic to a crawl on my way through down town San Antonio, causing an hour trip to take closer to two hours. The land they were clearing got about an inch of rain and was a mud pit when I arrived.
When I got there a safety officer from the company met me and escorted me around to the house with the two down dogs. One was worse than the other. Both large black lab types and both laid out on a garage floor. The owners, standing around in shock and scared of course, were obviously upset and fearing for the lives of their pets.
I started removing several stingers from around the eyes, ears and mouth of the closest dog and I could tell right away that she was pretty out of it. Even though I was pretty late on the scene, I figured it wouldnít hurt to remove the stingers and it seemed to comfort the owner some. I offered some Benadryl, but he said theyíd been talking with their vet and had already given both dogs a dose.
This dog didnít look too good. Her eyes were not stable and she wasnít moving a muscle. The other one got up and walked around a bit, so I checked him and he seemed to at least be aware of his surrounds.
This was a first for me, (dogs attached) so I wasnít sure what else I could do or offer other than to go see about the bees. I did put a little MelaGel on the stung areas of the first dog that I checked. MelaGel is sting pain reliever I was given by my aunt that was married to my late uncle that was a beek for many years. Itís a topical balm that contains Natural Melaleuca Oil and helps a good deal with stings.
(any advice anyone wants to offer here would be helpful for us all Iím sure)
So I go out behind the houses to find a few small saplings remaining where they indicated the ďbee treeĒ was before they dozed it down. A few bees were starting to cluster on one of them and another few dozen bees were basically searching for home and going up and down a section of the privacy fence near the small tree where the others were gathering.
A couple hundred yards from there, out in the middle of the cleared field, is a good size brush pile. What looked like 6 or 8 mid size trees, mostly young live oaks and a mesquite or two, as well as some scrub brush that was about 30 feet long and 20 feet across and bunched up really tight. That made it difficult for me to get in among the larger limbs to try to locate a hive of any sort.
There were a few layers of comb laying around, over on one edge of the brush pile, and a piece or two hanging on a limb above them. Plenty of bees were covering the comb on the ground robbing the honey and there was one good size ribbon with a fair amount of salvageable brood. All in all there were about 6 pieces of comb, the longest about 14 Ė 16 inches by 3 Ė 4 inches wide, so Iím guessing it was a fairly small limb they were hived up in. Of course that could have come from only a small section and there may be plenty more buried up in the middle somewhere? The dozer drive was already gone, so there was no one on location that really knew anything more about anything else.
I brought along a cardboard 5 frame nuc, but I didnít have a swarm lure with me, so I decided to frame up as much of the brood as I could salvage and see if that would be enough to draw the bees into. The bees over by the houses were mostly clustered about head high on a small live oak right around a fork. I figured I got lucky there and took advantage of the fork to place the nuc and tied it off there. There were bees going in to it before I finished tying it to the tree. So that was promising.
These construction guys need to get back to their clearing business asap, but thereís rain in our forecast again tomorrow. Iím hoping that will allow the bees enough time to regroup and hopefully with any luck, they may move into the nuc trap I left for them.
Of course I have no idea what happened to the original hollow the hive was in or if there is even any thing left of it or not. I looked as good as I could in the brush pile (without cutting my way into it) but since I couldnít locate a stream of bees going into it anywhere and it was starting to rain again a little, I decided it wasnít worth investigating at the moment.
I left the nuc there and depending on the weather and maybe any advice received here, I may go back out there tomorrow, or may wait until Friday. The rain chances are less then and it may give the bees more time to regroup.
Iíll take my generator and bee vac when I go, so in case I find them clustered somewhere else, I can at least load up what I can find.
I know itís a tough thing to give advice about without seeing things first hand and also without knowing what Iíll find when I return, but any pointers would be helpful and most appreciated.
Should I even worry about getting into the middle of the brush pile to attempt to locate what may or may not be left of the original hive? They intend to push the entire pile further across the property in a couple of days, so I donít have much time to act on that . . . if at all and if needed?
Or should I just go check the nuc trap in a couple of days and hope for the best? Hopefully the dogs are okay and maybe Iíll be able to rescue a few thousand bees before itís over.