Sunday, April 3, 2011


This has nothing to do with the A-Z Blogging Challenge, though it looks like Mother Nature wants me to participate anyway.  Mother Nature is crazy like that.

The Texas afternoon was nice, in the high 80s, and perfect for outside shenanigans.  The Boy was off with a friend having fun at the Legoland Discovery Center.  The Baby Momma was out sunning in her bikini, and I thought I'd get some sun on my pasty white nerd flesh as well.  So sitting in a plastic lawn chair sun-worshipping, I notice something.

There was a noise.  My first thoughts were that the wind had picked up and was rustling the leaves in the live oak behind me - a lot.  The rustle kept on getting louder.  I felt no wind on my skin, however.  I tilted my head back to look at the tree.

There were gnats in the air.

Now big clouds of gnats ain't a strange thing round these parts.  They happen.  If you have to walk through them, you just inhale and dash through the cloud so you don't suck a gnat up your nose.  No big deal.

The gnats were hovering above the back yard.  The cloud was getting bigger.  The gnats were getting bigger.  The rustling was accompanied by a buzz that was growing louder and louder by the second.

"Look!" I yelled at the Baby Momma and pointed above us.

"What?" she looked at me, then up.

It suddenly clicked in my head.  "Run!"

"What?" she looked back at me.

"Get inside!  It's a swarm!" I leaped out of my chair.

She looked back up.  "No . . ."  Her eyes widened and then we hauled ass inside.

With our noses pressed up against the sliding glass door, we watched the sky dim and the airspace above our house fill with bees.  Thousands of bees.  Perhaps tens of thousands of bees.  It's damn hard to count bees in situations like that, but to properly describe it takes a lot of expletives.

"Look on that branch," she pointed at the live oak.  Bees were . . . coagulating . . . on the branch, dangling in strings like some freaky form of bees-laden Christmas tinsel.  More and more bees created the bee chains until there was this massive, writhing blob of bees infesting the tree.

I'm still rather stunned by the whole thing.

Lots of internet searches and calls to bee wranglers gave us some information about what had happened.  These were perfectly normal Texas honey bees doing what they do.  A new queen left a nest, taking about 60% of the old hive's worker bees with her.  The swarm decided to use our backyard as a way-point in finding a suitable place to build their permanent hive.


Multiple experts said they will probably clear off the next day to their new home.  One slight problem would be if they discovered holes in our roof or eaves where they could set up shop.


We coated the eaves with Wasp poison and are hoping for the best.

Of course this lead me to thinking about such an event in game terms.  It was freaking scary!  But imagine if these were a couple of thousand D&D Giant Killer Bees.  Entire villages could be wiped out during a swarm.  Imagine a swarm decides that the capital city would be a good place to live.  The sewers would probably be an ideal home for the giant bees.

Okay, I think I've thought to much about this.  My skin is crawling and I need to go scratch my entire body. 

- Ark


  1. Cool story. Glad you and your lady got inside ok.

  2. They're not as scary as they look :) My grandpa was a beekeeper among other things and I've even gone with my grandma to pick up a swarm like that. You shake the branch it's on over a bee box and get the queen in it. Come back in an hour or so when they've all settled into the box, put the lid on and free money. I think they sold swarms like that for ~$60.

    Of course there was that time he dumped a truckload of hives and they stung him so many times he had to go to the hospital . . . so yeah they aren't ladybugs ;)

  3. Given the worries about declining bee populations right now, I'd say this sighting is good news, even if it does impact on your sun-worship! ;)

  4. We had the same thing happen when I was a kid, and I was freaked out and fascinated by it all at the same time. Didn't last long though as my parents called a friend of the family who had a farm and kept bees, and he came out and pretty much took care of it like Telecanter described.

  5. I'm a bee keeper. The bees wouldn't have hurt you. Even if you were standing next them. Bees in swarms are very gentle. The bees are so gentle that you can literally wear them. Do an image search for "bee beard". Swarming bees have no brood or honey to protect so they only get defensive if you harm them. Granted, someone who isn't trained to work with bees should just look and keep their distance. That swarm was about 7,000 bees.

  6. Bees are bad enough, but thanks to the wonders of nature TV channels I learned all about Japanese Giant Hornets. I may never leave the house again.

    Lazarus Lupin
    art and review

  7. @Pierce - Thanks - yeah, I'm glad that we didn't trip on the way in. Evidently that was the most dangerous thing that could have happened. :)

    @Telecanter - I swear, the incoming bees gave me the chills like they were aliens from another planet breaking through the atmosphere. The monkey bit of my brain was all Bravely Running Away Sir Robin Style. But yeah, to hear the bee-people talk about it - it was nothing.

    @kelvingreen - Funny, the bee people we called all said that the last month has been nuts with bees all over the state. I guess the Texas bees at least are making a big comeback. Hurrah for bee-sex, I guess.

    @Bard - The bee wranglers we called wanted a minimum of $225 to take the bees off of our hands. Most wanted a lot more. Supposedly 'bee insurance' makes free bee retrieval impossible these days. Geez. We decided to wait them out, and 28 hours after the invasion, they were gone. "What, my tree wasn't good enough for you little bastards?" :)

    @Travis - yeah, after the initial shock, we found we could wander around the yard and the bees stayed away from us. One or two buzzed my head, but they didn't seem to want to have anything to do with humans. Not that I really want to be that close to bees - and them bee beard folks can keep their beards to themselves. I'll watch from the safety of Youtube. :)

    @Lazarus - I know! Them Japanese Hornets are nightmare fodder all over the place.

    - Ark