Dang! They must have only just moved in, because I tossed some leaves from the pool in there yesterday or the day before.
I love bees. But unfortunately, here in Arizona virtually all wild colonies are now Africanized, and we have had a number of incidents where humans and pets have been seriously injured after annoying some of the little ladies.
So I called a beekeeper. Explained that they’re in my organic compost bin and I really, really don’t want the compost sprayed with some evil chemical. And that’s when I started to learn a lot more about bees than I imagined I already knew.
To start with, over the phone I couldn’t explain what the compost bin looks like clearly enough that he could visualize it. He said normally a beekeeper can remove a colony if it’s still swarming, but once the bees have taken up residence inside a nest, it’s usually too late. However, he added, if they’re in something moveable that you can throw a big plastic bag over, you might get away with it. I think that describes the composter, but my description of it was pretty fuzzy.
Otherwise, he said, the preferred way to eliminate an established colony is soap and water, which should do no harm to the organic compost. Truly evil pesticides are the last resort.
I said this compost bin has a little hinged hatch you open to drop in vegetable matter, and that’s where the bees were squeezing in to their plastic “cave.” It had occurred to me that if I waited until after dark, when the bees are asleep, I could tape it shut with duct tape. In time, they’d die.
Problem is, said he, bees don’t “sleep” in quite the way we think of sleep. Bees rest. He was afraid that if there was more than one hole to tape up and if I didn’t work very fast, they’d come pouring out of there the minute they were even slightly disturbed. I allowed as to how there were four, not one, slits around the hatchway, and that it would take a few seconds to cover each. He regarded this scheme as risky.
So tomorrow he’s going to come over and see what he can do. I hope he doesn’t have to assassinate the little critters. One way or the other, it’s going to cost me $125…so, good-bye to all those pennies I’ve been pinching by way of storing up for the allegedly pending layoff. Yacan’t win for losin’, eh?
Photo of bees in cereus bloom: Mila Zinkova