I love autumn in Texas! After the scorching 108+ degree temperatures of July and August the weather cools to a more temperate 80 degrees. The sun softens, any rain perks up the grass and the orchard begins to look green again. The breeze is warm and I spend some time each day with my face in the sun just letting that warm breeze dance across my face and through my hair. It doesn't matter what is happening with the election or with crazy-relative drama or anything else when the breeze is dancing across my front porch. This is the weather of late spring and early summer where I grew up in Canada. So in the fall I keep my windows and doors open to invite all that beautiful fresh air inside.
And that is a big mistake when you live on a farm.
Earlier this week Papa the Farmer asked me to strain some honey and melt the wax. The Little Farmhands and I decided to do a deep-clean of the kitchen and so while the Little Farmhands emptied the pantry and the junk drawer and poured all their contents out onto the kitchen table and counters, I poured honey into a colander over a bowl. And then I walked away.
And then, as it so often happens, a child distracted me. I forgot about the honey and I never even thought about the open door.
Do you know anything about bees? Each bee in the hive has its own job. The Queen lays eggs, the drones fertilize the eggs. The guard bees make sure nothing invades the hive. The worker bees go out and collect the nectar. And the scout bees fly around looking for new sources of nectar.
Oh, those little scout bees.
When a scout bee finds a new source of nectar, she returns back to the hive and does a dance. In some miraculous way, the worker bees watch the dance and can tell exactly where the nectar is located. EXACTLY. Then they fly off to bring the nectar back to the hive.
Late Wednesday afternoon, one little scout bee returned to the hive and did her dance…
Straight ahead.. wiggle, wiggle… over the fence… wiggle, wiggle… around the tree… wiggle, wiggle… up the steps, onto the porch… wiggle, wiggle… through the door and to the left… wiggle, wiggle, wiggle!
And by the time I came back near the kitchen I could hear a strange buzzing sound and I looked up to see 100 bees swarming my kitchen table.
I did what any self-respecting, 21st century FarmLady would do. I went on Facebook and asked if anyone had any suggestions for how to deal with a crisis such as this.
May I just say, as much as I love my blog readers, y'all are no help in a situation like this. My favorite comment came from Ashley:
My children were no help, either. Read this:
It didn't take me very long to post my plea for help on Facebook, but by the time I got back to the kitchen it was obvious that my keep-the-door-open-and-hope-they-all-fly-out approach was seriously backfiring. The buzzing had grown exponentially louder and there were now at least 500 bees buzzing around my kitchen!
FarmBaby began to cry and say, “We need Papa! We need Papa!” He clearly has no confidence in his mother's ability to handle a crisis such as this. (Actually, that may have been justified considering that there were 500 bees buzzing in the kitchen and I was on Facebook soliciting advice from anyone who might be willing to chime in!)
Somewhere in the midst of all the buzzing and crying I did have the presence of mind to move the honey outside. I thought all the bees would follow. They didn't. New bees found the honey.
It got worse and worse… the bees just kept coming.
Now, not only did I have 500 bees invading my kitchen, but a thousand more on the front porch. (Mental note: When taking honey outside in case of bee attack, 5 feet from the front door is not a sufficient distance!)
I was obviously too overwhelmed fighting bees to do much in the way of taking pictures, but the picture below, although blurry, may give you an idea of just how many bees I am talking about. Remember, this is just one bowl. They were all over my kitchen and my porch!
(All the dots in the grass are bees, too!)
When it started to get dark I kept all the lights off, hoping the bees would fly outside toward the setting sun, back into their hive where they would develop anmesia and forget all about the honey in the house by the next morning. It didn't work. They just hunkered down right where they were for the night. On the porch. In the kitchen. In the Living Room. We even found three in the bedrooms.
Then Papa the Farmer came home. It was 7:00 or 8:00 pm. All the children were awake, dressed and unbathed. We hadn't started supper, there were 1500 bees ready to spring into action the moment we turned a light on, there was honey everywhere, and pantry and junk drawer contents everywhere else. And there we sat outside, in the dark.
“I can explain,” I said.
We ended up sneaking back into the house to grab some potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic and we grilled those outside. It was actually a pretty delicious dinner that deserves its own blog post, even if we did eat it in the dark. How about I post pictures of that next week, ok?
Then it was time for bed. Way past time for bed, actually. Since bees don't move at night, we just hunkered down with the bees, kept our bedroom doors shut and it was very quiet and peaceful here at the Good Old Days Farm that night.
Not so quiet and peaceful the next morning though. We woke up while it was still dark to try sweeping them up. That worked to a point, but it got them buzzing again. Do you have any idea how loud bees can be? We moved honey bowls and scrubbed tables and counters, turned fans on to blow them outside and did everything we could to get rid of all the bees.
Someone said, “Wow! I'm surprised nobody got stung.” Ok, confession time. There were 4 stings. First Farmboy stepped on a bee (I TOLD him to put shoes on!), then when I turned the lights out I put my hand on one that I couldn't see. And Papa the Farmer got stung twice while he was doing battle with the bees. But hey, this whole farming things was his idea in the first place, so in his case we'll just call bee stings a “professional hazard.”
And by the way, baking soda and water is a great way for the average person to neutralize the venom of a bee sting. Just mix a little paste and dab it right on. And please don't tell anyone why I know that.
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