Death of a hive due to possibly excess application of pesticides from an irresponsible neighbor or pest control company
In the future I plan on trying to do a more in-depth documentation of over-the-counter pesticides you can get at your local hardware store or nursery, and to identify which are the most harmful to bees. In the meantime, one useful reference on Wikipedia can be found under the subject: Pesticide toxicity to bees. Separately I recently came across this article in the July/August 2011 issue of Sierra Club magazine over a new class of the pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Many believe there is a strong correlation between the release of this pesticide in the U.S. and a signficant die-off (30-90%) of bee colonies. It is produced by the company Bayer who currently has the EPA backing for its continued use here even though it has been banned in much of Europe.
Another challenge we have faced as urban beekeepers is dealing with a separate neighbor that doesn't seem to be sympathetic or understanding of the activity of beekeeping. To tell the story: We have an additional acre of land adjacent to the American River Parkway that is an ideal foraging area for honey bees. Shortly after establishing a few colonies on our property, one of the hives apparently swarmed in the spring and decided to land in a tree branch about 30 feet above the ground in a neighbors backyard a few houses up the street. I then got a phone call from this neighbor who appeared upset about these bees in his backyard and wanted them gone. I tried to reassure him that the bees were just swarming, they will not be dangerous as they are looking for a new home, and most likely they would move on within a day. Anyway, Mojgan and Chuck came over within a couple of hours and left out a bee lure in their backyard scented with lemon balm in order to attract them inside. The next day I came by to pick up the lure and found out the swarm had moved on, not taking the lure, and no longer present. I tried to reassure the neighbor that this episode in general should not be considered a problem. Based on probabilities that such a swarm would gather in their specific backyard compared to all the other possible locations is not likely to happen that often. But if it does, all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call, assuming we could get there before they move on. In any event, the bees should not be considered dangerous when they are swarming.
Apparently the neighbor wife was even less understanding, getting another neighbor involved and going to the county and trying to see if something could be done to remove the hives from our property. I reminded her of where her fruits and vegetables come from and asked if she and her family would just prefer manufactured or over-processed "food" that bees did not play a role in instead? She seemed offended at my statement of pointing out the hypocrisy of her actions and said she “didn't ask for these bees”. I asked if the bees asked for you to be in their backyard when you moved in? As you may guess, after pointing out she was being a NIMBY (Not in my backyard) and multiple attempts at reasoning the issue on a more logical level, the conversation deteriorated. Sadly this previously amicable relationship with these neighbors has fallen to one now of mistrust. It didn't seem to matter after I also reminded them of the courtesy we provided by allowing them to store their 30 foot long travel trailer on our property for a year rent-free while they remodeled and added an extension on their home. I get the impression from such interactions that some people can be very selfish, and lacking the understanding or sympathy even to the nature around them. I guess as long as their is food on their grocery shelves and it is of good quality, they really don't give a crap or want to partake in helping it get there... sigh.
All content and images are property of Stephen Fischer Photography, copyright 2011. Last updated: 7/16/2011