Monday, April 26, 2010

Catching swarms

I like to make posts like that one yesterday when I said I didn't have much to say anymore because it means I'll suddenly have a whole bunch of stuff worth writing about (cough). So anyway, this post about catching bee swarms at Seguin Photo Blog sparked some memories.

My dad has been a beekeeper for at least my whole life; I can't remember a time when we didn't have raw honey to eat--as opposed to the pasteurized stuff you buy at the store. Many years we had so much we couldn't eat it all and sold some of it locally.

He never advertised himself, but word got around and we would occasionally get a call to catch a swarm of bees that had appeared in someone's front yard and had them all freaked out. We had a fairly low-tech operation; we would catch the swarm clump in a toe sack, tie it shut and take it to the empty hive we wanted to put them in, then duct tape the sack opening to the crack on the breed super (the box on the bottom of the hive).

Anyway, one day we got a call and went to this house to catch a swarm that had alighted on a tree branch in the front yard. The people wouldn't even come out of their house. So we geared up and went to catching the swarm. About that time I saw a familiar face peeking timidly through the screen door. It was someone from school who I didn't like very much because he was always picking on me. We caught the swarm and went on our way.

The next day at school he had to ask me about it, so I told him about catching swarms. He just couldn't believe we did that kind of thing. Of course the Big Question is: Don't you ever get stung? Sure, I told him, but after a while you get kind of used to it.

It must have impressed him. He never bothered me again after that.


  1. My grandfather used to have a bunch of hives in the lot he owned next to his house. He used to swear that the bees never stung him. When me and my brothers were kids and we visited, we would watch him -- sure enough! -- walk out to the hives with no protective gear, pull out some honey comb, break some off, and bring it back without a single sting.

    We were dumbstruck.

    Oh, and this was smack dab in the middle of San Antonio back in the early 1970s. I'm not sure they let you keep bees in the inner city any more. Who knows? Maybe they didn't back then, either, and my grandfather just didn't care.

  2. P.S.: I know I would be impressed by some kid who's gotten inured to bee stings. I still am, as a matter of fact!