Up on the rooftop

Well, it wasn’t Santa but I was up on the rooftop of the local Lowes store Monday evening.  The manager called me earlier in the day reporting a swarm of bees above the entrance that was shedding bees down onto customers’ heads throughout the day.

The view from atop Lowes
The view from atop Lowes
Windy...that's a large flag
Windy...that's a large flag

The problem with the swarm is that it was at the base of the blue metal roof that hangs above nearly all of their stores.  That roof is far too slippery and far too steep to stand on.  Not being Spiderman, we decided to survey the scene from above.  We thought that I may be able to reach the bees by reaching over.

A bee on my finger!
A bee on my finger!

I have never been on the roof of a large commercial building so climbing up on the roof was pretty exciting all by itself.   It was windy as…well, it was windy.  And cold.  Andy windy.  It was clear, especially with the wind, that there was no way for me to hang over the side to reach the bees.  I looked around at the pretty cool view and could not come up with a good solution but killing the bees with pesticide is definitely not a good solution for me.

A good size swarm of bees
A good size swarm of bees...it was 3-5 pounds I bet

I have used a shop-vac to catch swarms in other cases so the manager grabbed one off of the shelf and we rigged it up so it wouldn’t just destroy the bees as it sucked them in (yes, bees can definitely ride safely into a shop-vac if you decrease the suction).  With an audience (that’s the best part of swarm catching), I vacuumed the bees off of the roof at Lowes and took them straight home.  I love free bees!

More info about my bees and beekeeping


13 thoughts on “Up on the rooftop

  1. Well I guess you really cleaned them out at Lowes. Maybe you will get a discount the next time you go shopping there. And of course “Free Bees” is nothing to sneeze at either.

  2. What an amazing story. You really should write that up as an article and get it published for a wider audience.

  3. Warren to the rescue! You need a super hero outfit now! They can call you the Bee Man or something cooler that you can come up with! :)

  4. Never vacuumed a swarm of bees but when processing honey, I would vacuum up bees in the staging room and release them again outside. I always wondered how many of those bees made survived but like you, the bees had to go and pesticide wasn’t an option. Good work!

  5. I adore bees. Thought about keeping some on the property, but found out the neighbor one property over has a box. Decided not to stress the available food sources and just let hers do the work on my orchard :-).

  6. I was sharing your post with my daughter and she said “I love the joke at the end.” Duh! I only got it when she pointed it out. Very funny!!!

  7. Fascinating-I wish I could have been there to see them-but I am afraid of heights so maybe not LOL

  8. Shopvacs are not air tight of course, but if you leave a little gap to make it not pull as strongly (e.g. shove a rolled up piece of paper between the base and the head), you reduce the suction. If you just mess with that a little, you can significantly reduce the suction such that you can “encourage” bees to fly in while not smashing them to bits. Some folks also build an oversized box onto which they attach the head. The vac head is built to run on a certain sized container so if you change that, you can cut the suction also.

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