While I was in Chicago last Wednesday I got a phone call at breakfast. It was from the vet clinic whose pasture I use for my chickens and bees. They had gotten a visit from animal control because one of the neighbors whose yard borders the pasture had complained of seeing bees in her pool.
I assured the vet’s office that I would take steps to eliminate the problem and that I would reach out to animal control as soon as I got home. On Friday I spoke with the animal control officer who was very nice and professional.
Here is what I think happened. Remember last weekend when I moved around a hive? Remember how I regretted having done it during the day because that mean that the bees who were out foraging didn’t know where their hive was? Do you also remember how I put a layer of newspaper between the two hives? Well the existing hive was on the top. So, the bees from the existing hive who were out foraging wouldn’t have been able to get back up to their home when they returned even if they did find it. They would have had to enter through the new (lower) hive and a) they just wouldn’t have done it and b) if they had the bees down there wouldn’t have allowed it.
So, I think there were a number of very unhappy bees wondering around for a few days. I suspect that that is what the homeowner witnessed.
Another couple of points. Animal control didn’t go to the home of the homeowners, and I certainly haven’t been there, so for all I know they weren’t bees at all. Additionally, I have no ideas if there were three bees, thirty or three hundred.
All of that said, I decided to use this as an opportunity to conduct an expirement. I did some research about various ways to attract bees to a water source. I’m trying four different water sources to see where the bees go. Three of the four are in orange Home Depot five gallon buckets. The fourth one is the baby pool that I fill with ice on hot days for the chickens. As it turns out, the chickens do most of their drinking out of that baby pool as well. I have had lots of wine corks floating in that pool for a while because bees were drowning. I added more wine corks today for additional bee support.
As far as the three Home Depot buckets, they are as follows:
Original Bucket with Plain Water: I poured out the somewhat stagnant water that was in there and put in plain fresh water along with additional wine corks.
Additional Bucket With Sugar Water: I put a couple of inches of the sugar syrup I feed the bees in the bottom of the Home Depot bucket along with a layer of wine corks. I filled it most of the way up with water.
Additional Bucket With Lemongrass Oil: Again, a layer of wine corks, filled the bucket with water, and put 10 drops of lemongrass oil.
We’re only one day in, but so far I still see bees busy at work in the baby pool, and no bees in the other three buckets. I’ll come back and update this blog post periodically to share what happens. So, stay tuned!