Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Bees Needs

I've always loved the phrase "the bees knees". In fact, I think the phrase is just as fun and grand as it's supposed to be. But bees needs? Who could have imagined?

Well, I'm finding out just a taste of what bees need, and getting an opportunity to ask a few friends for help in the process. Those who know me well know that asking for help is not the easiest thing for me to do, but I digress...

One of the things we need for the nursery school is a nice fence to save kids from falling into the gap between our yard and our neighbor's fence. Because Permanent Fencehood was a ways in the future, a few months ago we put in a temporary fence so that Joaquin wouldn't fall in and get stuck, but the time is ripe and so we called my friend Mikel to talk fences. Our plans sound nice, and when we took measurements it was clear that the compost bin would have to move. So I was outside turning the last few months of compost over (I know, I know, we don't do it often enough!) when an angry buzzing sound drowned out the songs of the birds nearby.

Almost instantly, about twenty bumblebees flew out, completely pissed off that someone was messing with their home.

I backed up, carefully put the lid back on with help from the turning fork, and went inside to have a think.

A few days later I called Vector control. They'll go after your rats and squirrels and other problem critters, but bees are classified as "Not Our Problem". They were very informative and I ended up calling Ruhl Bee Supply, where the Bee Advocate from Heaven gently talked me into making an effort to keep both my bees and a paper wasps nest in my yard. The bumblebees could be moved, live. The wasps were a biological control against pests like aphids and damaging caterpillars and moths. By the time our conversation was over, both had receieved not only a stay of execution, but citizenship in our yard and a permanent home with us.

Now to move the bees. I make a few calls and got in touch with a fellow who sounded intrigued at the prospect of moving the bumbles. He told me to make a bee box-- it should be about the size of a birdhouse, with soil, dried grasses and hair in it for the bees to nest in. It should have a removable cover and be mounted up higher, near the compost pile. He was convinced the box could be knocked together in a few minutes or so. It took us a week to get around to doing it and Joe about an hour and a half to manufacture the box. It looks great and we're going to have Bee Man come out as soon as we can.

In the meantime, I made a few phone calls to find a surrogate compost pile for us to use until we make the transitions necessary to begin to convert our food scraps again. We're going with a worm bin this time, both of us not vigilant about using our yard clippings, the worm bin seemed to be the right choice for us. Our friend Kathee graciously agreed to let us bring our buckets of funky food scraps over to her house once a week until this transition is complete.

And the wasps? They're getting moved this winter, to a better spot, maybe on the side of the house or the back of the garage. So now, bees, wasps and rotting food all have their homes. Perfect!

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