Thursday, May 17, 2007

My brother is famous...

Today we were searching on the Internet... my father was working... and we found a report about Aren. It was about the bees. One man, a scientist wrote about Aren how he sent away the bees from our avocado tree:

Now he's jumping on Dada's neck, and saying "he, he". When he came to know about it, he was jumping. He called Grandpa and Nanna, and said: "Click a photo of me."

A novel method to drive away rockbee swarm!

It was the usual SOS about a swarm of rockbees settling near a house; there are children playing, their safety in peril! This was in August 2005.

Mr. Frederick Noronha who sent out the SOS message received several helpful suggestions to deal with the bees. And then after three weeks, his own son drove away the bees inadvertently and in the process got us a new method to deal with unwanted rockbee swarms. He was playing with a tin - banging it - inside a room near the tree holding the swarm. The bees probably disturbed because of the noise fled the scene!

Let me give you the story in detail, starting with a mail in August 2005 from Frederick Noronha from Goa.

Frederick Noronha

Re: URGENT *** Query about a bee hive

Dear Sir/Madam,

A colony of bees has set up home about about 3 metres from my home. The hive is about 3/4 metre in size, and located on a tree.

Any suggestions on how, and who, can deal with this? Do you know the contacts of anyone in Goa?

We checked with someone who works at the Goa Directorate of Industries, who recommends removal. The 'pest control' solutions also offers a Rs 500 per hive solution, that involves destroying the bees. Is this the only way out?

Since I have small children in my home, I'm afraid of their safety.

Any help, tips, or links to knowledgeable beekeepers in Goa would be appreciated.


On Thu, 2005-08-04 at 08:33 +0530, M.C. Suryanarayana wrote:

Dear Noronha;

Let me, at the outset, assure you that the bees on the tree do not cause any problem to you and others, unless deliberately provoked (throwing stones, hitting with a stick or any such sudden movement directed at the bees). You may therefore like to leave them alone, as long as they dont disturb you (some worker bees may stray into any room of your house in the evening/night if any window is open and if there is light in it; but that is an instinctive behaviour of insects and the bees do not mean any harm).
Now, for the removal of the hive: unfortunately I do not know of any beekeepers in Goa; moreover beekeepers do not know about this type of bee (from what you said the bees are the 'rockbee' variety and are not 'kept' or reared. Tribal people usually 'hunt' these rockbee hives for honey and beeswax. If the colony (the bees and their wax comb) is newly settled, it may not have any honey; so, you have to pay such tribal honey hunter some money to remove the hive - depending on your anxiety and status in the society, the charge for this may vary, but it should not be more than Rs. 50 - 100. My advise is not to use pest control chemicals. Did you try the State Office of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission? The staff in the beekeeping section of this office may know somebody who can do this for you.
If you are desperate, and cannot find anyone to remove the hive, try this: on any day in the late evening put off all lights in the house and advise your neighbours too to do the same and remain indoors for about 2 hours. Using some dry sticks, leaves, dung, etc. light a fire on the ground right under the 'hive'; cover with green leaves and let the fuel smoulder and create lots of smoke. The smoke should go up and reach the hive. The bees are afraid of fire and smoke and as soon as they sense the danger of fire, they sip some honey in the hive and leave the comb to settle somewhere away at a safe distance. At this time you (covering your face and hand with protective clothing -- like gloves and a monkey cap; and using - if required - a torchlight covered with a red transparent paper) have to cut the comb off from the tree with the help of a knife tied to a long pole. If possible, scrap off any wax on the tree where the comb was attached. The bees may return later to the spot, but as there is no comb now they may leave the spot for good.

Best wishes, M.C. Suryanarayana

Frederick Noronha (FN) wrote 8.26 am, October 15, 2005:

I'm really grateful for all your help. FN

Thanks for all the help to everyone. This story indeed had a strange ending!

One day, my daughters friends were over to play. My [two-and-half-year-old] son was feeling left out. He went into a small room below the stairs (not far from the hive), and started banging on a tin there.

None of us were looking at the bees, whom we had got quite used to by then! "Uncle, look," said one of my daughter's friends. By the time I noticed it, the bees were 200 metres away, and were determinedly flying off past the fields in front of our home.

Apparently, the noise generated by my two-year-old had unsellted them. Aren wasn't even aware of what he had done! I shooed all the kids into a bathroom which is fairly airtight. But the bees just seemed intent on getting away!

We were initially afraid about safety while the bees were around. But then, a whole lot of friends, including some of the top bee specialists in India, responded to my email queries, and had predicted their behaviour aptly. Minguel was helpful particularly. So did beekeeper Ambrose in Saligao.

They would not trouble any of us. In the evenings, if the doors were left open long and there was a light-source inside, some 3-4 bees would enter the home -- of course, not with the intention of attacking anyone. In that sense, they're less harmless than a mosquito (which bites without provocation). We could just swat the 3-4 bees that came in, and they would fall down harmlessly.

We would stand-by and marvel at the disciplined and coordinated manner in which the bees would fly about their work, with two or four leaving the hive(?) and the same number returning every few seconds!

Maybe I'm imaging it, but the flowers around started blooming when they were around.

In a few seconds, they flew off as suddenly as they landed up at our place. They were gone. What was most surprising was that there was no honey-comb left around. My wife felt that there had been no honeycomb, as they gave the appearance of just sitting atop each other, and the 'comb' seemed to be changing its shape. Miguel feels they might have disassembled the comb as they went off.

So, a story which ends well. Even if we were afraid when the bees came in, and were around (what with having two kids in the area, and a schoolful just nextdoor... some had told us that the bees would probably move off after two days, but they took over three weeks to do so!). When I was talking to Ambrose, he said he felt he ought to be going in for keeping some more tame bees at his home!

Does anyone have a list of bee-keepers in Goa? Just curious after having a subject of interest thrust on me ;-) FN

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