The Bees

We have had an infestation of bees in the front building on the property. I was aware of it early on because I could hear them in the ceiling from time to time when standing in the meeting room on the lower floor.

Upon investigation, I had discovered that  they were entering the building around a water pipe that had never been properly sealed after installation. A couple of times I tried to use the wasp and hornet spray that can be sprayed from a distance of 15 ft or so and all it did was to make them upset.

I asked Ms Candi what needed to be done and she called BAHA. I don’t know what the acronym stands for but it is the Belize agricultural department. This call was made two weeks ago on a Wednesday. On that day, Ms Candi called me and said that they would be at the property at 2:30. I arrived at 2:30 and they had already come and gone. What?? Excuse me? Early? That never, ever, happens in Belize.

But this time it did and they had asked to get into the top level to see if the bees had gone up the wall. The guys who were here did not know that the front door cannot lock so they did not know how to let the BAHA guys in the building. The BAHA guys said that they could not come on Thursday but that they would be back on Friday.

Wrong. They didn’t show.

Then, this last Thursday, we decided to begin work on the tool room that will take up a corner of the lower level of the front building. We began by removing an existing wall. When Doug Haag pulled off the last board I glanced up and said, “Look, a bee.” Immediately Mike McCormick said, “Look, a whole lot of bees.” And there certainly were. They came swarming out of an space we had opened up by pulling down that last board. And they were not happy.

We ran out from the building. By this time 3 of the 4 of us had gotten stung. (I was the lucky one.) We hustled toward the back building and I was surprised that they continued to follow us. I have been in altercations with bees before and after running a few yards they have always lost interest and returned to their chores. But not these guys. They followed us into the first floor of the back building where the Belize crew were working and we all swatted bees for a while.

We decided to make a run for the third floor apartment. We got inside and closed the door as quickly as possible. After killing 8 or 10 bees that had somehow gotten inside the apartment we decided to watch March Madness for a while. About an hour later, we decided to get the Wilmington team back to the Barbers where they were staying.

On the way out we discovered that the general contractor we have been using, Chico, had decided to spray the bees. In the process, he killed a bunch but made a bunch of other ones mad. Two of his men got stung in the process. Some of the bees had gotten into the food truck next door next door as well.

The next day Mr. Chico decided to pay a personal visit to the BAHA office. He came back reporting that there are only two men who do this kind of work in the whole country and that they were in Orange Walk on that day and would come to our site on Monday.

This morning at 8:00 Mr. Chico said they would be here in an hour. It was about 10:30 when they arrived. I showed them around and let them see the upstairs that they had not seen before. Then they wanted to know if I had a flashlight. And did I have the spray for the bees. And did I have a ladder.

Yes, I had all those things except that I had gotten the wrong spray. So I was quickly off to the store to get the right stuff. (No, apparently the Agriculture department does not consider it their responsibility to supply the bee killing spray. Or the ladder. Or the flashlight.) When I returned they explained that they might have to take down part of the ceiling and part of the cover over the beam. I explained that they could do whatever was necessary to get rid of the bees. I was pretty emphatic about that.

The bees are located just above the ladder in this photo.

At that point, I needed to go get Tim Settles from the airport. I stopped to ask one of Chico’s men to take any messages.

We returned about 3:30. I asked if there were any messages and there were not. I was informed that the guys from BAHA had removed the hive and the honey, were finished, and had left. (Taking the honey with them, by the way. Harumph.) I went into the room and there were lots of dead bees, honey all over the ladder and the floor, and a general mess.

We both swept and then Tim mopped the floor as I swept some more. We will still need to clean the honey off the ladder and the brooms (brooms can get pretty sticky sweeping through honey) but that is a job for tomorrow.

We left to eat dinner at Friendship Chinese restaurant. When we returned I decided to go see how things were. I noticed more honey had dripped down on the floor and heard buzzing. I climbed up on a ladder and sprayed the insect spray up into the cavity until it ran out, then I exited.

Tomorrow I will get more spray, spray again, seal the hole to the outside, and see if that completes the process. Or not. Stay tuned.