The call comes. It's a swarm of bees up an apple tree. Jerry the Bee Guy suits up.
The call comes. It’s a swarm of bees up an apple tree. Jerry the Bee Guy suits up. White jacket and hat with netting across the face. Jeans tucked into socks. Socks in boots. He climbs a ladder labeled “Jerry the Bee Guy” and scrapes 10,000 honey bees off the gnarled trunk and into his wood bee box. Then, with his water-bottle vacuum, he starts suckin’ up leftover bees and telling what sounds like a bedtime story, a mix of “Snow White” and “Star Wars.” He knows what’s going on here.
“They’re following their queen. These bees moved with an old queen.
“The new queen emerges in the hive after the old queen leaves. But if not, they will fight for dominance.
“Then the worker bees push the new queen out. They say, ‘Go out and get mated.’ There are drones waiting in the sky right now. The queen flies out and they mate in the sky. “Once drones mate they die. It’s fatal.
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“The queen will mate once in her lifetime and then lays up to 1,000 eggs a day all of her life. For years. What we don’t know is, is it fun?
“When she’s not laying well, the worker bees will make a new queen from her eggs. Other bees are fed a little royal jelly, honey and pollen. Queens are made with only royal jelly.
“All the worker bees are female, and only the females sting. The youngest of these make the comb.
“Can you smell these bees? They have a pheromone for defense. And they’re really smelling now.”
There are different kinds of queens and more twists to the plot, but Jerry the Bee Guy, and that’s what everybody calls him, is packing up. He will take these bees home and put them in his backyard. Jerry the Bee Guy moves bees. He does not kill them. For the bad guys he’s got an apiary in Monroe.
May through June or so is swarm season. July to October the calls are about wasps, yellow jackets, bumble bees. Those cannot be moved. They are eliminated. Here’s a tip for those: a spray bottle filled with soapy water. No poison needed.
Jerry the Bee Guy’s not a young guy anymore. Maybe this is his last season. His beekeeper wife says he’s too old to be getting up on ladders. She and Jerry like to travel. Been to Turkey twice. Loved the people, and the bees.
Still, there is a radiant smile under that protective netting.
“It’s a pleasure to find good bees.”