Corte Madera Library staff found a rogue honeybee hive in our lower parking lot in late August.The bees had set up their new home in a crack in a retaining wall.
The Marin County Parks Department worked with our staff and put up caution tape and cones for safety, and helped us contact a local beekeeper to assist in the safe removal of the hive.
The beekeeper’s recommendation was to use a “Cone Exclusion Method” to relocate the honeybee hive, starting the process on September 9th. The Cone Exclusion Method involves placing a surrogate box under the hive (the crack in the cement wall), and adding a mounted cone as a single point of exit. The rest of the crack was filled with steel wool so that the forager bees’ could not reenter. This created a ”busy bee” atmosphere as they scoured for another way into the wall before finding the box, their temporary home. A couple of parking spots were blocked off in order to give the colony some space during relocation.
By October 12th, the majority of bees had relocated into the hanging box, depleting the original hive which encouraged the queen bee to find her way out. The beekeeper shortened the cone and pointed it up to heighten the smell of the bee brood (eggs, larvae, and pupae of honeybees) which enabled the queen to navigate out to the box more easily. The queen finally came out of the wall and joined the hive in the box.
The beekeeper reflected “The colony shows good genetic diversity!... I saw the queen but she was a ‘nervous Nelly!’ so I let her be. There is already a lot of capped brood on the frames! This is a good pattern- mostly solid with few holes.”
The hive has been relocated to Tiburon above a field against Richardson Bay.
Interested in learning more about bees and beekeeping?
Here are just a few of the many titles in the library collection that will help you understand bees, encourage them to visit your garden, or become a beekeeper.
There are many title on bees for younger readers. Here's a sample of what you can find at the library, including Honeybee Rescue which is all about relocating bees!
And finally, here's a recording of a Marin County Free Library program called The Secret Life of Bees presented by Marin Master Gardener and beekeeper, James Campbell.
Text by Greta Marti, children's librarian at the Corte Madera Library.