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Au Revoir Honeybees…


For at least the last four years we have lived in perfect harmony with a colony of Honeybees, who used one of our disused chimneys as their hive. They had never bothered us during the summers, and just hovered around the roses and took a drink from the water feature on the terrace, but have never stung any of us. However, the time has come when we have to part company as the lead around their chimney has failed, and when it rains the water comes dripping through the ceiling into our sons bedroom, so in order to get the work done on the chimney they have to go. We have a friend who has a girlfriend who keeps bees so we invited them round to try and collect as many as they could because we didn’t want to have to just kill them.

So a few nights ago they arrived with their suits and headed for the chimney. They looked down and saw thousands of bees and said that the nest of honeycombs must have gone down at least two metres.

They told us the idea was to try to get to the queen and get her out then all the bees would follow her. They didn’t think they could reach her from above so decided they could try smoking them out from below which meant drilling near to the bottom of the chimney (which is in the kitchen) and making a hole. So the hole was made and smoke pellets inserted into it.

Unfortunately, the only thing that was achieved by this was a very smoky and smelly kitchen…the nest had blocked up the chimney and the smoke wasn’t getting through. They tried piercing through the nest with a metal rod to make a hole through it, but that still didn’t work.

Obviously, by now the bees were getting rather upset so the next plan was to try to smoke them out from above. Some hay pellets were put into a little metal jug with bellows and lit.

This did seem to get some of them out but there was no sign of the queen, and by now a large amount of them had started crawling out and heading down the outside of the chimney. They tried to remove some of the combs to find the queen but they were just turning to mush when lifted out so they abandoned the idea of trying. Eventually, they decided the best option was to put a special box with a small hole in it next to the chimney and leave it overnight to see if the bees would go in.

The following day the bees were in a foul mood and we couldn’t venture outside without them trying to attack us (even the cat had to escape from the door like a bolt of lightening!), so we had to stop in all day.

In the evening the bee keepers came back and looked in the box. There were quite a few in it apparently, but not all of them as the queen wasn’t there. They said the best solution now would be to seal off the chimney before they all went back in again, or another swarm came along, smelt the honey and moved in. So they blocked it up, unfortunately leaving those still in the chimney to die.

It was a shame they couldn’t get all of them but they did their best, and the ones they did manage to get are now in a hive in the middle of a field hopefully rebuilding another colony.

There are still just a few hovering around the chimney, but not enough to cause a problem. As for the chimney we’ve decided to remove it fully in the Autumn or Winter and replace it with roof tiles to prevent the problem ever occurring again.

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I really admire you Frenchbean to go to all the effort to try to save the queen and all the bees, which we all know are in decline. You did everything you could (and more). At least the ones that you managed to save have a new home. Well done for caring so much about what happened to them!

29 May, 2010


What a traumatic experience for you all,but I admire you so much for trying your best.Good idea to take the chimney down,frenchbean,and nice to know the rescued little bees,have got a good home.

29 May, 2010


Thanks for the comments Dylandog & Bloomer. Over here most people usually get the fire brigade to get rid of them as it's part of their job, but we were told they would just kill them all outright. So we decided to try this option first.

29 May, 2010


Good that you tried to save the bees. Pitty it didn't work out as you had hoped.

30 May, 2010


Shame for the end result but top marks to you FB for all the effort put in.

I'm sure they are all fine in their new field/home........although they maywell be talking about you out of earshot!!! LOL!

31 May, 2010


I'm sure they will! :0))

31 May, 2010


Fascinating blog.. I'm sure Oddbillie is right! Whatch out! It doesn't seem that the Bee shortage is a prob over there. Then again, my raspberries have been full of them this weekend!

1 Jun, 2010

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