Monday, March 24, 2008

Great Selling Point: FREE Honey!

Who says that there's a bee shortage?

Family has so many bees living in walls of home that honey drips out, discoloring wallpaper

Associated Press
Last update: March 12, 2008 - 9:45 PM

SAN MARINO, Calif. - The situation at the Stathatos house on Virginia Road is getting sticky. So many bees live in the walls of the stately Tudor home that honey drips out of the walls, discoloring the wallpaper in the dining room.

The bees had been good tenants, peacefully coexisting for years with the home's human residents, Helen and Jerry Stathatos.

But lately the house has become a hive of activity, with bees buzzing around an upstairs bedroom, said Dustin Mackey, a bee removal expert with Bee Specialist.

Mackey made a house call in late February to vacuum the busy insects from a window frame and seal the floor in the bedroom.

"You walk into the house and it smells sweet," Mackey said. "I felt like I was in a jar of honey." Mackey said Jerry Stathatos said the bee problem had been going on for at least 20 years, but living in an apiary never bothered the family.

Calls Wednesday to Helen and Jerry Stathatos were not returned.

Mackey said Stathatos decided against removing the bees because it might require them to pull down several interior walls, where "thousands, maybe millions" of bees have taken up residence.

"They are making honey and we can't even get to it," Helen Stathatos told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune newspaper.

Just outside the front door, near a hole the bees use to enter the house, Mackey saw thousands of bees "just hanging in clumps."

"They've got the most beautiful garden you've ever seen, with flowers all around the house. It's the perfect environment for bees," said Mackey.

Yes, this couple has some definite problems. I guess they didn't need the sub-prime market to render their house worthless. Who has the fortitude to live with bees for 20 years and allow honey to seep through the walls? The only thing worse would be walls full of rodents. I get the heebies just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, at this very moment, I have my very own developing bee hive.

On Wednesday, March 19, we noticed a raucous swarm of bees hovering around the window of the playhouse that our neighbor gave us in November. This is the day the swallows usually return to San Juan Capistrano. Sometimes we have swallows trying to build their mud nests under our eves. It's quite a messy nuisance. I can tell you, though, it's not nearly as bad as this:

When I called the exterminator, the lady who answers the phone told me that they had received many reports of bees swarming, but that the insects were just trying to protect the queen bee and, more than likely, were not building a hive. She said that I should save my money and wait 24 hours for the bees to disburse.

On Saturday, forty-eight hours later, the window of the playhouse looked like this:

One guess as to why the two videos taken on my cheap digital camera are so shaky. I don't swat at bees (that would be dumb), but I was dancing around quite a bit because, to get a good shot for y'all, I had to stand directly under the bees.

There's something I haven't told you. When our kind neighbor offered us this very cool two-story playhouse, he told us that there was a beehive in it and he intended to put an insect bomb inside to kill them. You see the side that the bees have swarmed on now? Well the hive was on the other side of the same window, in a small compartment. We told him that we'd rather not shower pesticides in the entire dwelling where my children would be playing on a daily basis just to kill the bees in a small exterior cavity. So we called the exterminator and he charged us $200 to drill a hole in the wood and spray a small amount of pesticide (it took about seven minutes). We had to clean out the hives ourselves ("we" = my husband).

With this repeat, it's apparent that for bees there's no place like home.