By Darren Doyle, editor:
An interesting experience occurred last week here at the Edmonson Voice office when I noticed what appeared to be flies or some other flying insects darting around in the front yard in numbers like I'd never seen. Cautiously approaching to see what the commotion was, I could hear the low roar of what sounded like an industrial fan running, and in a couple of minutes, all the insects gathered on a trimmed tree branch of the sycamore tree near the front door and I could tell they were honeybees.
I grabbed a camera and began to take a closer look with a zoom lens, since the sting of any bee or wasp swells me up like the Goodyear Blimp. Even though they still gave me the creeps, it was pretty cool to see a honeybee swarm for the first time. Relatively, it was a small swarm but having never seen one, my attention was grabbed.
I called my neighbor, Barry Cowles, a local beekeeper and the owner of Poppy's Local Honey, which is sold locally in Edmonson County. Barry has several hives on property he owns near the entrance of R&R Heating and Air Conditioning on Veterans Memorial Highway. It's a small, lovely spring-fed pond with several hives around.
Barry soon showed up, assured me this was no big deal, and that the bees would all be relocated to a portable hive he had in his yellow Jeep. He explained that starting the relocation process could aggravate the bees at first, so he cautioned me to stay alert, even though I felt like I was facing a flock of pterodactyls somewhere on the castaway hills of the planet Eternia. I was standing on the pavement just in case I needed to pull a Usain Bolt and race to the haven of my nice and peaceful office. In reality, it was much less dramatic than that, as Barry pulled out a few tools he uses to relocate the bees.
He had a small wooden box that was the hive, and a cleverly constructed device made from a large drinking water container mounted upside-down with the bottom cut out. The container was attached to a telescopic swimming pool pole. He put on a protective hat with a net "to protect the eyes," and placed the hive on the ground, directly under the swarm.
He then stood under the swarm and placed the container around the bees, forcefully tapping the branch, which caused about half the swarm to fall into the container. He then dropped the container down at the opening of the hive and they started to make their way inside.
The bees were a little confused at first, some were even angry. There were shots fired as Barry took five or six stings to the arm. After another try with the water container and the queen was relocated to the front of the hive, all the others began to follow. He even showed me the queen and how she was pointed in a very distinct manner.
"She's saying 'this is the way, get in here,'" Barry said.
In just a minute, the angry and confused bees headed for the hive entrance just like it was Black Friday at Best Bee where, oh honey, these guys were trying to get in line to buy cheap Samstung TVs. (apologies)
Barry decided to leave the hive there for a few hours just to make sure all the stragglers made their way in, as it apparently takes time for some of the slower ones to catch on. After he returned, he had a full hive of these guys ready to go to work on their next batch of Poppy's Honey. A small handful of bees remained on the limb for a couple days then they were gone.
Cowles said he has had an interest in beekeeping and honey since he was a kid, where he learned the art from family members.
You can purchase Poppy's Local Honey at multiple locations, like Creekside Nursery on Chalybeate Road, Sun Valley Feed Mill in Brownsville, or Honeybee Bakery and Cafe, also in Chalybeate.
Visit them on Facebook by clicking here.