Ecology And Environment

Where have all the Honeybees gone



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The Honeybees Are At My House

Where have all the honeybees gone? They're living on my porch on the Big Island of Hawaii. Bee City, Hawaii is 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide, and 7 inches thick. It reaches from the floor of my porch to the handrail, and fits nicely between a pair of 2x4's and two sheets of plywood. The bees have totally built out the space, they will have to annex the next section of porch if they want to expand their development.

Whoever built this house didn't use spindles around the outsides of the porch, which most intelligent people do for ventilation, but instead used an inner layer and outer layer of plywood, with space in between, creating a lot of real estate for bees.

I got a bee-man' to come over and check out the bees. He said he had a bee suit. The bee suit turned out to be blue jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, a ventilated face mask, gloves, and a lot of duct tape. He sounded a robot talking through that ventilated face mask, but I got a quick education on bees. My favorite was that bees are loyal to their queen - if the queen gets stolen away by the bee-man, the remaining bees won't join the next hive down the street, they will just die all over my porch.

The bee-man did carve out a piece of honeycomb for me, which I dropped into a bucket until I can filter out the honey. It smells great, it perfumes my entire carport, but my dog can't keep his face out of the bucket. Who knew that dogs love raw honey?

Not knowing the proper way to filter honey, I asked Google. After mashing the honeycomb through a half-inch mesh, the recommendation is to strain the honey though a knee-high nylon stocking, inside a car parked in sunlight. The heat builds up inside the car, and softens the honey enough to let it drip through the nylon, but not enough to melt the wax honeycomb. Well, I live near the rainforest. It may be Hawaii, but it's cloudy most of the time, and chilly enough at night to use down quilts. Drive 30 minutes uphill to the town of Volcano and everyone has fireplaces. When I'm lucky enough to get a day with clear skies and sunshine, I don't want to be messing with a bucket of sticky honey all over my car upholstery, no matter how good it smells.

I haven't decided what to do with my own personal beehive. Honey is very expensive here, so I could make some money selling it at the local farmer's market. Or, I could let the bee-man relocate the bee colony to an avocado or papaya orchard. Or, I could let the bees expand into the next section of the porch, creating more honey for future harvests. Until I decide, I'll just stay out of the bees' way, enjoy the intoxicating fragrance of the honey, and know that thousands of bees are still safe here on the Big Island.

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More about this author: Rose Carlson

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