It was just a normal Sunday morning. Dave was reading the paper on his iPad in bed while I went out to clean the chicken coop. I walked inside and something fell on my head. I spun around to see a baby snake – black with yellow stripes on either side – slithering out under the coop door. I screamed. Twice. After all I am a girl. I composed myself, looked around, saw nothing wrong and started to clean up. Was the snake trying to eat the eggs? Not that I could tell. What was it doing in the roof of the coop? We had seen the occasional rodent up on the roof ... What was going on?
I thought it best to trim the overgrown trees that were shading the coop. Maybe they were providing too much access. So Noel and team came with electric saws. A few days later, Noel knocked on the door. “Ms. Marcie, there is a bee hive in the roof of the chicken coop. They swarmed us on Saturday. We were stung all over. They were crawling in my nose, everywhere.” I was so concerned about him. “I’m fine! I drank lemon juice all night, vomited and had fever, but I’m fine now.” He was so calm. I was trying to send him to the doctor, to make amends somehow but he would have none of my fussing. I must admit, he looked completely normal.
I called our dear friend Clive who has bee hives at his amazing Little Farm http://rockingrandmamusic.com/ . He rushed over in his doctor whites after work and told us to call Keith from The Valley Hive! Keith is a very special bee keeper. In addition to maintaining hundreds of hives in the San Fernando Valley, he helps many people like us maintain bee hives at home. He checked out our hive. “They are non-aggressive bees…you are quite lucky. Now we have to migrate your hive out of the chicken coop roof successfully. Once that’s done we will check the heath of the queen. Then, if all is well, your bees will forget the location of their old home, and when we bring them back they will acclimate to their new location. They will need a good water source and… you need to read Bee Keeping for Dummies! ”
Why did they swarm Noel if they were non aggressive? Because the chainsaw causing vibrations right next to the hive opening signaled the bees to defend! It was 100% guaranteed to happen. Why did a snake fall on my head? There must have been rodents sniffing around the hive that the snake went after. All very logical causes and effects.
The return of the bees was scheduled for Monday December 11. Fires were raging all over California including Mulholland Drive behind the Skirball Center. We were delayed until Jan 6, 2018.
What did it feel like to hold the bees in my hands? It was heavy with wax and honey. The bees were so busy. They were working at home…like I like to do. Keith pointed out how they were touching each other to form a chain while making new waxy honey comb. The scent of the smoker was faintly in the air. Smoke never smelled so good! The experience was 100% all-consuming. And it was so beautiful.
I was all covered up with my suit. Keith worked with no gloves…no gloves and not one sting. We do have some very nice new girls living with us now…girls in the coop, girls making honey on the side yard, and a glorious new year to look forward to…