Beekeeping 4-1-1: My story

After reading Beekeeping 4-1-1 with Special Guest, Tim Peterson it got me thinking about my own honeybee encounters. I grew up in a Greek Revival house built in the 1830s, by a Scottish architect. The architect also built an identical house about a mile away that my grandparents now live in.  The two houses differ in the interior but the exterior designs were very much the same (you wouldn’t know they were once the same by comparing the two today). One significant difference between the two exteriors is our houses original cucumber wood siding is still showing.

My grandparents house before renovations.

My house today.

Cucumber trees are part of the magnolia family and grow mainly along the Appalachian belt, up into western Pennsylvania and New York. Because of its resistance to rot, architects and carpenters often use it for siding and clapboard. You may be asking yourself what does this have to do with honeybees? Well bees now live and have lived in the siding of our house for about 10 years now.

Cucumber tree, The Silva of North America by Charles Sprague Sargent

At first when the bees moved into the left side of our front entranceway we tried to convince them to live somewhere else, with bee spray (knowing what I know today we wouldn’t have done that), plugging the areas where they were getting into the siding and even had our local beekeeper try and move them. Nothing worked, these bees were persistent and they continued to live in the same area for the next couple of years. Eventually a new colony moved into the right side of our entranceway, and the bees become a permanent feature of our house.

Entranceway, bees live on both sides

The bees were thriving so much that another new colony was formed and in search of a hive. The only reason we knew this was because of the large swarm of bees outside our house. The colony was frantically searching for a new home and they eventually settled on a metal support for our asparagus, which wasn’t a very good place for a hive. The bees clumped together in a long beard shape and for the next couple of days continued searched for a new home, with no luck. My mom calling the local beekeeper from down the road who took the bees to a new hive. He did warn my mother though that the bees may come back, since it was such a short distance between our houses and the new colony may smell pheromones that were left behind.

The bees home

These pheromones are most likely the reason why the honeybees have been attracted to this area of our house for so many years and because we have allowed them to live in peace. My mom doesn’t mind them buzzing around since they aren’t aggressive, aren’t able to get inside the house and have caused very little damage since our siding is cucumber wood and is resistant to rot. Who knows what damage there may be in the inside! There is a very strong smell of honey inside the house and some has leaked through the ceiling in one spot, but the smell is so sweet and everyone has become accustom to the smell and having the bees around.


Now you are probably asking yourself, have you gotten any honey from the hive? Well it is quiet a process to get to where the bees have their hive and my mom did try once when she was in the process of relocate the bees to another area, but by the time she got to the honeycomb the honey had dried up.

If you are lucky enough to get to your honey, it will be raw unprocessed honey. The honey may be cloudy, which is normal. Store the honey is a cool dry place (cupboard or pantry), most people think storing it in the refrigerator is the best place, but this will make the honey crystalize faster. If crystallization occurs, just heat the honey in a pot and enjoy!

Our honeybee colonies have declined a little in the past few years and when the chance arises my mom would like to plug at least one side of the entranceway. She is in hopes that just plugging the hole will work, but in order to deter the bees from returning she may have to clean the entire siding and area inside the house of any nest, honeycombs and wax cells. Then scrub the area with hot water and soap to help remove any smells that may be left behind. After that point she will then repair the area so other swarms can’t get in. Other possible approaches include trapping the bees, call your local beekeeper for more advice.

Are you living with bees in your house, did you have to remove them? I have heard stories and have seen pictures of entire walls covered and practically moving because there were so many bees! I have told you my story, what is yours? We would love to hear from you.

2 Responses to “Beekeeping 4-1-1: My story”
  1. idiadega says:

    This is just wonderful Ashley!

  2. vintagejenta says:

    This is the coolest thing ever, Ashley. Except now I’m all curious to know more about cucumber wood and 1830s greek revival architecture!

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