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  • Karen S. Clymer

'Un'Neighborly Bees Produce Sticky Problem for George

Another memory treasure from years past -- George, my husband, was shocked at the verbal onslaught from the caller on the telephone. He was ranting and raving saying that he had a garden plot rented near our property and he was sick and tired of having to deal with our honey bees in his garden. The main purpose of the call was to tell George that now there was a giant swarm of bees in his garden, on a fence post, near the ground that he had almost stepped on and he was going to kill them.

George, realizing this could escalate quickly, managed to remain calm and explained that he did understand his concern and he would be right out to check and see what he could do, but also made sure to tell him it was against the law to kill honey bees. Going quickly to the site of the swarm he told Raiford, (not his real name), that there was no way he could know if this swarm was from one of our hives or that of our neighbor, Jerry, or some other bee keeper hobbyist, but that he would get the equipment and contact his bee keeper buddy, Jerry for assistance and they would capture them. After making the phone call to Jerry there was other work to be done; namely, try to establish a friendship with Raiford.

While waiting Raiford was angrily telling him the issues he had been having, "I go to pick a bean or a squash and I get a bee instead." He said his little grandson liked to come to the garden with him, but had been stung by those 'varmint' bees, so was afraid to bring him anymore. This followed more threats to kill the swarm with gasoline. George empathized with him and apologized for any inconvenience, explaining that he had no idea he had had any issues concerning the honey bees. He now better understood this man's anger and frustration.

Jerry arrived wearing his white coverallls, set an empty bee hive near the swarm and began to quietly beat a rhythm. Soon, the bees began entering the hive, signaling that the queen bee had come into the hive. All the while, a safe distance from the bees, George explained how these honey bees are a real blessing to gardeners with all the pollinating they do, which helps ensure a better crop. "For you", George said, "that means a better garden crop and for me it means a better garden crop and a better honey crop." Gradually, Raiford began to understand the benefit of having the bees. It really helped when he further explained that the bees get to know you when they see you regularly and unless they feel threatened they usually won't sting. With his new understanding Raiford requested the hive be left in his garden. What a honey of a day!!! Like George always says, "Why make an enemy, when you an make a friend?"

My sincere hope is that this true happening reminds you of some unneighborly situation you have had and saw turn into a honey of a day and a lasting friendship!

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