Dear PawPaw, We are so sorry that your birthday card is late, but……
a. We forgot!
b. The dog ate your card.
c. We are heartless jerks who simply don’t care.
d. 5000 bees invaded our mailbox right after we put your card in there.
True Story. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you will know that my facebook page was “abuzz” last Wednesday with hysteria over a bee invasion. It all began about an hour and a half after I had put some letters into my mailbox. There was nothing strange going on out there at that time. Just a little while later, I was walking through the living room and noticed something odd….a triangular thing hanging on the bottom of the mailbox. This was my first view:
I realized it was bees, and frantically texted Jason, who seemed annoyingly amused. Can I stress here that I was FREAKING OUT? My friend, MK, was on the way over and I called her in a panic, warning her to have her windows closed when she pulled in the driveway and to drive as close to the house as she could.
The panic may or may not have escalated when she got there. I may or may not have used the term “killer bees” and scared the stew out of Isaac.
The next hour involved me calling our pest control company, trying to locate a beekeeper, trying to make dinner, making frantic Facebook updates (because I wanted everyone else to know my plight), almost having a heart attack when an elderly man walked by my mailbox completely oblivious to the swarm there. I was at the window, frozen, wanting to yell and warn him, but all that came out was a frantically concerned moan. You know that sound. Thankfully the bees left him alone. Passing cars were stopping to take pictures. My mailman nearly had a coronary and pulled into my driveway honking like a maniac. I finally located a beekeeper who came straightaway to collect them. By the time she got there, the cone o’ bees had grown to this size:
At that point, Jason was at home and while I was trying to make dinner, he was directing traffic and I was intermittently yelling for him to take pictures for the blog!! The beekeeper’s strategy was that if she could get the queen into the cardboard box–yes, she was going to drive home in a regular car with 5000 bees in a cardboard box!!!!–the rest of the bees would follow. But darned if it took forever to find the queen. (And yes, this woman was scooping them into the box with her bare hands–talk about the heebie jeebies!!). Finally, we had to remove the mailbox from the stand and the queen was underneath it.
So the question everyone want to know is why so many bees? Why my mailbox? And how did they get there so fast? Basically (as I understand it) when a new queen is born, she takes a bunch of bees from the swarm and starts her own swarm. A few bees head out to scout out a new location, and for whatever reason, they chose our mailbox. So in a group of 5000, they traveled together to get to our mailbox. The queen is heavier and flies more slowly and tires very easily, so when she stops to rest, the whole swarm waits there with her. So basically, they had been traveling in this large group together. So when I put the letters in the mailbox, there’s a pretty good chance that 5000 bees were hovering under the dogwood tree by the mailbox, resting. Or maybe across the street somewhere. We know they were close because of how fast they invaded it.
Also, how do I know there were 5000? It was an estimate by the beekeeper. She said that 1300 bees weigh about 1 pound, and that once the box was full of the bees, the box felt like it weighed about 5 pounds.
I was amused at the way my cheapness manifested itself during the bee emergency. Here was my thought sequence:
This is gonna cost a fortune!
I don’t care how much it costs, I want them gone.
(then I find out that beekeepers will remove them for free, because they are honey bees.)
What a relief. I am so lucky that this is going to be free.
You know, now that I think of it, I should charge them for the bees! This is money in their pockets!
Okay, calm down, just be grateful that the bees will be gone very soon.
Well, they should at least give me some free honey.
I guess you could say it was a win-win. They got new bees. The bees got a home where they are actually wanted. I got some free honey and a good blog story. What more could you ask for?