Since most people are radically pro-bee, it shocks me when I come across stories about people burning swarms to destroy them. Such arrogance. Such ignorance. Or maybe, pathetic panic is at work. There are always better options than firing your pollinators.
I’m not talking about the accidental fires started by beekeepers’ smokers. Those happen – but fortunately such fires are rare. Hot smokers, sparks, and dry grass are a dangerous combination. I’m also not talking about stories like this one, from June or this year, which may be described by police as suspicious. As the Kent (England) police tell it, 26 hives may have been incinerated in an arson that might be linked to bee thefts.
Bees aren’t the only fire-target. A couple of months ago, a Pennsylvania man burned down his house trying to smoke out possums. (Officials say the man had issues with bees, too.) No word on how the possum family is doing. Meanwhile, here are a couple of recent stories of folks using fire to kill bees:
In Georgia, a chap set fire to a swarm that had landed on the eave of his home. What might have started out as a bad idea turned the poor fellow’s house into ashes.
Earlier this week, a Michigan gentleman tried to remove bees that had settled into his garage. It was July 4th. Patriotically, he used fireworks to do the job. The fire department couldn’t save his garage, which looks like this now. You can see the story here.
Finally, there is this story of a Florida homeowner who melted his kids’ swing set because a swarm of honey bees landed on it. Hot photos are at the end of this link.
If you’d like to see some interesting ways of being stupid around bees, here are some instructive videos for you. The first one, called “Killing Bees with an AR-15, Gasoline, and Beer Bottles, shows how an assault rifle, gasoline, and beer bottles are used to eliminate pollinating insects when they are apparently deep in a forest and not bothering anyone.
If you’ve got the stomach for more incorrigible fire stunts, you may enjoy “Setting Bees on Fire“. I kept thinking that the fire would spread to the dry grass nearby, giving the dude an instructive learning moment. Fortunately, though, that didn’t happen. However, it looks like the protagonist gets stung 30 seconds into the clip, so keep watching.
What should you do if a swarm lands on your house, garage, or family playground? Most readers of this blog are beekeepers. They probably already know what to do. If you’re not a beekeeper (or if you suffer from lack of common sense), call a beekeeper. They can usually collect honey bees. And they probably will not burn your house down during the rescue.