For the two years we have lived in our 1920
colonial revival tucked on the lower back side of Missionary Ridge we have lovingly provided safe harbor for a bunch of wild honey bees. Our neighborhood has a wonderful mix of established trees and hedges, and we just assumed these hardworking gentle zoomers lived in a hollow tree somewhere. We benefitted from strong pollination in our patio garden and raised beds. We marveled at the gentle way these bees landed on our sweaty arms and lapped the saltiness from us. We learned to step carefully after rain storms because the bees enjoyed the moisture from the safety of the soggy backdoor mat rather than the treacherous waters of the dog’s wading pool. The hive must be near because when the wind blew gently from the northwest we could smell honey if we stood beside our garage.
But no amount of scanning the horizon or straining our eyes revealed the hidey hole of golden liquid. In two short years the wild urban bees helped us create a garden oasis.
Then one day while chatting up our next-door neighbors I learned the secret of the bees, and in the same breath, their sentence of banishment. This colony of thousands of gentle workers resided in the walls of our neighbors’ garage and although none of us had ever been stung and we had all enjoyed the fruits of their pollination, these bees were to be banished to the bee yard of a beekeeper certified by the state to safely remove honey bees.
Our neighbor’s daughter just celebrated her first birthday and is beginning to take her first steps and they anticipate spending time in the backyard with her splashing in a kiddie pool during the dog days of summer. They are great parents and don’t want her to be stung, so the bees had to go.
In Tennessee, it turns out that bees are a highly protected species because of their economic importance in this highly agricultural state. It is illegal to destroy an established hive. If you find unwanted bees on your property you must have them professionally relocated. They are so protected that people may keep hives with no worry of repercussions or legal liability if neighbors get stung. According to the Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 44-15-125, individuals who register their hives with the state agriculture department and are in compliance with that agency’s requirements “shall not be liable for any personal injury or property damage that is caused by the keeping and maintaining of (bees).”
So as soon as we learned our neighbor bees were leaving we began the great bee hunt. Mid-June is late in the bee season. The spring flow is almost over. Most bee suppliers have shipped out their last packages and nucs of bees. We checked with the (almost) local bee supplier Pigeon Mountain Trading Company in Lafayette, GA but we were two weeks too late to get bees from them. We were however able to buy a kit for one of their sturdy cypress hives with a beautiful copper cover for the patio. So, we brought the kit home, and Sam and I spent an excited weekend building a brood box, super, bottom board and frames hoping we’d be able to find bees to fill it. Lo and behold, through the magic networking powers of Facebook, I found some bees.
The closest local bees I could find were almost two hours away in the wilds of Georgia. The family-run North Georgia Bee Keeping and Supplies still had healthy nucs and swarms. We made an appointment for my daughter and me to drive down to Silver Creek and get a refresher bee class with David the beekeeper, an incredibly knowledgeable young 4th generation bee master. After we proved our bee metal and earnest desire to love and care for them David filled our new hive with a nuc of worker bees, drones, and their queen covering five frames of brood, pollen, honey then sent us on our way. Here is the Facebook link to North Georgia Bee Keeping Supply.
Operation Reedz Ur-Beez has successfully launched.