Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Apple trees and honeybees

"I'd like to build the world a home, and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees,
and honeybees,
and snow white turtle doves"

This was a favorite hymn in my hometown church congregation and I often find myself singing it.

I've got the apple trees and honeybees covered, but I'm still working on the turtledoves.

Evidently my neighbors don't have the same loving associations that I do concerning apple trees and honeybees.

We allow a commercial beekeeper to keep his hives in our orchard in the off-season. The neighbors have recently lodged a complaint that their house and car are "covered" in bee "poop". I went over and looked, and while there is some evidence of little yellowish-brown dots on their siding on the southwest corner of their house, it is hardly covered. There are maybe five dots in a six-inch by six-inch area. Being a country girl, if it were on my house, I probably would not even have noticed it!

I explained to them that they are living in the country now, and there is a lot of dirt. I have to wash bird "poop" off my house, and we have bat "poop" in the barn where the bats are hanging in the rafters. They weren't buying it. He wanted to know what kind of pesticide to spray because what he is using now isn't working. I told him that while the country is in the middle of a colony collapse disorder epidemic, he's probably not going to find any company marketing a product to kill honeybees. (He'd never heard of colony collapse disorder!)

The guy mentioned he is going to have to re-side his house. I think he expects us to pay for it! He also mentioned that his new car looks like it is five years old. I hope he doesn't want a new car too!

Another neighbor came out and saw us talking in his yard and jumped in to the conversation. Her back yard is "covered" with bees. Her 4-year old has been stung. She said the township supervisor advised her to pursue a civil action against us, because she has a right to a "better quality of life".

I was flabbergasted. I've never heard of bee "poop" being a problem before. We went back to our house and examined the outbuildings - now that it had been pointed out to us, we were able to find two or three dots on one of the buildings. I've since talked to some bee experts and their take is that the neighbors would be hard-pressed to prove that the bees on our property are the ones that are pooping on the house, given the distance from the road where the bees are located. Also they said that the bee "poop" washes up easily with soap and water if it is cleaned right away, and that the biggest problem is in early spring when the bees take a "cleansing flight" after being cooped up in the hive all winter.

So the neighbors must have left the mess since February or March, and now it is probably baked on in the summer heat.

I think it is their problem, not mine. The lady with the child has white clover in her backyard. If she got rid of the clover, probably the bees would not stop there!

I am also quite shocked that they would go to the township supervisor before talking to us. Is that what neighbors do?

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