I haven't been behind my lens for a while. It was a crazy start to the new year and, well, the camera took a backseat, I'm afraid. Although frazzled (and more on that in a future blog post), I could not miss out on the opportunity to photograph a bee rescue!
I first posted this image on Facebook and the rescue idea was given to me by the amazing pet photographer, Grace Chon, among others.
Los Angeles is having an unseasonably warm February. I'm talking 90 degrees. Totally sucks, but I digress. The dead, hollow Black Walnut trees on our 100 year old neighbors property (yes, I said 100) seem to move like psychedelic hallucinations (not that I would know what that was like). Over the past week, we've noticed that the swarm was very low to the ground. I walked across the street to see where the hive could be and discovered the image above. A bunch of bees huddled on the bottom of a bush that surrounds her yard. From far away, I thought it was a thick bark. Until I saw it moving. Gross and groovy all at the same time. I had to get my camera!
Now, normally I would've just let this go. Let nature do it's thing. But, with the bees so low to the ground and close to the street and with kids playing and dogs peeing and gardeners working...well, I had to do something.
After posting this image, as I said earlier, Grace Chon recommended a website called Honeylove.org. They subcontract bee removal companies who then relocate them to beekeepers, orchards and farms. The people I called ( I'll pass that information on later because they are awesome) are opening a bee sanctuary! I mean, how cool is that??
Today the swarm had moved to a new bush. More camouflaged, if you will.
Enter Sean Medina, Operations Manager at Bee Catchers. As he gets out of his truck, you can see and feel the love this man has for his job. I learned so much from him today. For instance, the big hive is in the 80+ year old walnut tree. He suspects the entire hollowed out tree is infested all the way down to the root. Honeycomb and all. When I asked him why was this group of bees out here on the bushes, he said that it is a battle of two queens (insert your own joke here). Also, most bees are female! I did not know that. The males are used for reproduction and then the queen sends them on their "drunken goofy" way. Sean also told me that the hives work so well because there are no men to screw it up. Women make things work smoothly. Maybe we should remember that come election time. Just sayin'.
With no fear, Sean suits up and begin the tedious task of "vacuuming" the bees into your standard Home Depot bucket. Tree branches are placed inside so the bees have someplace to land. Sean is patient, with excellent energy and the bees barely swarm. I mean, I was less than 15 yards from him and the bees were not bothering me at all! (I was given specific safety instructions should they swarm me, though.)
Once the queen was in the bucket, the rest of the hive went looking for her. Guess where they settled?
Would you be brave enough? Not me. I'm gonna leave this one to the experts. I respect the bee (as we all should!) but I want to respect her from as far away as possible. Let her be free to pollinate and keep our food supply safe. I will not disturb her.
Oh, and in case you missed seeing an image of a pup, here is Sarah. She lives down the street from me. A 3 year old American Bulldog whose smile and spirit are almost as beautiful as that smile on her face.