Sunday, October 28, 2007


This year I was moved to put my name on an obscure website for people willing to remove problem bees. It is actually a mid_Western beekeeper's web site, but they say they were getting so many calls from all over the country that they decided to set up a nation-wide reference page. I didn't have much confidence that it would bring me much, but it did. What I really wanted was to pick up some swarms (clouds of bees looking for a new home), because swarms don't sting, and settle into beehives quite readily.

The web site had a question, whether I would be willing to remove bee colonies from buildings. I said I would under SOME CIRCUMSTANCES because I have enjoyed doing some out in the countryside near the farm at Honey Grove. Nobody in their right mind wants to remove bees from homes, though.
First it's destructive because you have to be able to get at the bee's comb and they always put it in protected spots, like between floor joists and you have to cut out walls, studs, or structural timbers, to expose them. This makes for sticky customer relations. Law suits are a distinct possibility.
Second, it is hard, dirty work, and you get stung every time - often multiple times. That would all be good, but people don't like to pay what it's worth. Amazingly, though, some will pay whatever you ask.

Well, I've diverged. I put my name on the web site hoping to pick up a swarm or two. Instead I got call after call from people wanting me to remove bees from their homes.
I always talk to them and explain what it takes to do it. I also always tell them why it's not a good idea to just spray poison on them. Usually when I get to the part about how much I charge, and the fact that I do not fix the damage I have to cause to remove the bees, they decide they want to live with bees in their walls. Great! I don't want to do it anyway. A few still want me to come and I tell them , "No." because the bees are apparently Africanized (killer bees), or they are in the roof of a 2 story house, etc. But no calls for swarms for months.

Swarms are a spring event, normally. There is an olde saying:
A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay.
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm of bees in July isn't worth a fly.
That's because they need time to build up enough strength to overwinter. In Texas, summer is usually HOT and dry and bees stop swarming naturally, anyway. This year, though, was unusual. It rained all through the summer. It didn't get at all hot until mid-August and it cooled off early in Sept. So the grass didn't shrivel up and die like most summers, and all the plants are looking fabulous. And then the bees started swarming again. I finally got a couple of calls for swarms in October. Weird!

Through all this, I have finally decided that maybe doing removals from homes is not too bad. I get 2 or 3 calls per week. When I do one, I charge $300-600, which is pretty good money. I do get stung, but I finally ordered an actual bee suit, which will help.

Joe had a great idea. He said I should hire a young person and teach them how to do the work and handle the bees. When the person is up to speed, I could take the calls, make the appointments, and collect the money. Then I could train another one. Of course these slightly mythical employees would be paid minimum wage.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The new rooms

My sons tell me I need to post to my blog more often. Probably true. Shortly after I returned from SLC, I started a project I've had in mind for some time. This came about because my son and his family are moving to Texas and we agreed to have them stay with us while they look for a new house. Suddenly we need more room! There is a large, open space in our attic that I thought would be easy to convert to a bedroom, maybe two. Well, I did it, but it wasn't easy. I'd return from work and start re-routing wires and a/c ducts, etc. I thought this would take a day or two and it took 2 weeks of working until 1-3:00 in the morning. Needless to say I was getting sore and tired. I got it done with only one setback when I put a nail through an electrical circuit cable and shorted it out. Next phase was to lay subflooring. It was supposed to be as easy as laying the panels on existing rafters, but no two of them were on the same level. So I spent another week nailing new 2X4s in place to get the floor support somewhat level. Then I had to build new stud walls and nail plates. We were getting close to the day by then, so we hired a sheetrock guy to come help. Some help! He took 2 weeks and it still wasn't done. We paid him off and painted it. Now our grandkids have had a play and bed room and we've really enjoyed having it.