Sunday, November 18, 2012

Uninvited House Guests Take Up Residency in Crazy Comb

You can't imagine our surprise to find a nest of mice had take up house in Crazy Comb. Thank goodness we had removed all but one box and all of the frames three weeks ago. Otherwise the mice who moved in would have had a hay day with our beautiful comb.

We went down to the bee yard today, hoping to pull all the frames out of The Turquoise Bee. It was a warm sunny day 60 degree, very unusual for the end of November. We were hoping to find a pile of dead bees inside Turquoise and we thought it would be easy, just pull out the frames and load everything into our car. It was to be our last visit to the bee yard. We would say good night to the girls and be done for the season.

We we so confident we headed into the yard without any of our protective gear on only to find a flurry of activity coming from Mr. Abbott and The Turquoise bee. Katran'a Drone Den seemed quite but not dead with a few bees flying about. We had one box standing from the demise of Crazy Comb. Last time we came down we pulled all her frames and all but one box. I was perplexed, why had we left a box in place. Paula wanted to make sure it was indeed empty, that we hadn't left a few frames for some reason. When she opened the lid we both took a step back as about 7 mice looked up at us. Whoa, what a nest they had made. I actually had to admire the work and the determination and wondered where in the world they had gotten the beautiful ornamental reddish orange feathers. They stirred a bit and Paula quickly put the lid on. How in the world had they gotten in, the mouse trap was in place. Then Paula noticed the cork was missing from the hive hole that we usually plug and had plugged weeks ago. Some how the cork plug was dislodged and was laying on the ground next to the hive. I quickly ran to the car to get my camera to capture some images of the little critters before kicking them out. I don't like mice and yet these little pile of rodents sort of captured my attention. I tried to visualize them haling in all that stuff to make their next, almost wishing we had a video camera pointed on the hive so we could watch this kind of activity.

We suited up and tacked The Turquoise Bee. We had two boxes full of frames and when we opened the hive I think both of us were surprised by how many bees were still there. We got the first box emptied but the ill tempered girls were giving us a run for our money so we closed her up after pulling the top box and decided we would have to come back in a few weeks for the last box. We have never gotten a good idea of how strong this hive really was, I guess the population was much stronger than we thought. A few more weeks should take care of the rest of them. We will have to get down there and pull the frames before mice decide to move in. I would be sick to loose a box full of drawn out comb and pollen to field mice.

Back to the mice and giving them the boot. Oh so sad but they had to go. Paula dismantled the box, pulling it off the hive stand which was covered with maggots. Ew, how gross! Before Paula turned the box onto its side so the mice could scamper out she asked how I felt  about mice running a muck, even up my leg. Well, I wasn't keen about the idea but I knew they had to go. So I just said go for it. The mice scampered out, ran about a bit and then took off so we  dumped the nest and stacked the hive stand behind Katrina's Drone Den, hoping rain might clean off the maggots.

We packed up the car and skipped our good byes knowing we will have at least one more visit in the next few weeks. I guess it was a good thing we found the mice now and not in the spring when we might have just had an infestation. Seven mice is enough for any beekeeper, a box full of mice would be too much!

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