A cruel twist of fate

I hate nature sometimes. Just when you think you're at one with it, it turns around and bites (or should that be stings?) you on the arse.

Came home from work this evening as normal, deciding to give visiting the plot a miss, as I watered everything in the polytunnel yesterday evening. Wandered into the kitchen, switched the kettle on, then took a visit to the toilet whilst waiting.

Whilst in the toilet, I noticed a bee on the inside of the window. Went to let it out and noticed another. And another. Thought "that's a bit odd" and let them out into the great wide open. As I turned around, the thought occurred to me that the buzzing of wings wasn't coming from the bees I'd just let out. So I paused for a second, straining my ears to figure where the noise was coming from. The loft. Bugger. Sounds distinctly like more than just another solitary bee.

So, out with the step ladder, switch on the loft ladder, pause for a minute, then tentatively lift the loft hatch. As I lifted the hatch, the shadows being cast from the bulb in the rafters made it clear that I had quite a bit of company.

It's ironic that, having noticed my love of everything with legs, wings or leaves growing with every passing day and, having blogged about my new found love for bees a while back, I was now faced with my own swarming, buzzing dilemma.

Closing the hatch, I pondered my options, which appeared to be alarming few. Tomorrow morning, I've got to be somewhere for a meeting which I simply cannot miss, so getting someone in to remove them quickly before they established a nest wasn't an option. Bees were finding their way from the loft into my flat, which is so unfeasibly small, there's nowhere to hide from them. The last thing I want to do is harm them but, equally, I don't want to be harmed by them either and I can't see my making it through the night without at least a few ending up sharing my personal space.

Frantically, I searched Google looking for an answer. Apparently, clove oil around their nest can result in them moving off in search of a new home. So I jumped in the car and headed for town, stopping first at the local Focus DIY store for emergency insecticides in case all else fails, then Tesco in the vague hope of finding something resembling clove oil. No sign of clove oil, so cloves will have to do. I'm sure I can boil them and produce a nice oily tea or something.

Returning home, I tentatively lifted the loft hatch. Lots of bees still present, but none of them airborne, which seemed a bit odd, as I'd left the loft light on. Feeling a bit braver, I ventured as far as sticking my head up into the loft for a closer look. Everywhere was teeming with bees. Their behaviour seemed odd. Preening one another, crawling very slowly. Dying.

Sickly bees

I hadn't relished the thought of having to resort to using insecticide on them. For some reason though, it would have been less painful, knowing it was a last resort, than seeing them just die for no apparent reason.

Taking a couple in their last death throes, I brought them into the light for a closer look. I'm still none the wiser. I was aware of parasites, but there's no sign of anything of that nature on any of them that I can see. They seem to be frantically trying to clean one another, so I can only assume that either they've been poisoned elsewhere, or they've experienced a colony collapse for some other reason and have taken refuge, dying of starvation and are socially grooming one another as some sort of comforting mechanism in their despair.

Mystery bee mortality

Either way, it's horrible. Bee carnage abounds and seems to be getting worse every time I check on them. Half of me wants to insecticide the lot to stop them suffering unnecessarily. But the other half of me doesn't know enough to rule out the possibility some might survive. All I can do is close the hatch and leave nature (or whatever has interfered with it) to run its course.

The really ironic thing is that it had to be bees. I spent ages the other day scouring the local countryside looking for a suitable log to use to build a bee hotel for the allotment. I think I might have to make a few now just to make up for the carnage, albeit none of my doing.

I'd never have believed that I'd find bees suffering so disturbing, but I do. Think I'll risk the stings and see if I can rescue some of them in the hope that transferring into the fresh air outside might somehow help.


May 18, 2010 В· admin В· One Comment
Tags:  В· Posted in: Pests, Wildlife

One Response

  1. Amii - August 4, 2010

    This post may have scarred me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to sit at home and have a swarm of bees in their death throes above me. However, it still made me chuckle.

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