Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Swarm of Bees

I've figured out what worse than a broken computer and a few sleepless nights. Bees. On your boat. 

The other night we came back to Bettie after a lovely evening of chitchatting and tacos. Jari went down easily for his 45-minute pre-sleep nap. (Why he can't just go to sleep then is one of those baby mysteries I've yet to figure out.) And Vlad and I had a beer in the cockpit. While taking that first sip of beer, I noticed this strange, dark mass hanging from the bimini, something that looked like the outline of a push broom brush, but thought it must be a tarp or something that Vlad had flung over the top as rain protection. 

And in any case, I soon forgot all about it when we resumed our heated discussion about this article I had read on Slate. The author gets freaked out because he sees two kids alone in the back seat of a car, and it's a hot day. That sounds pretty bad, until he mentions that the girls look to be about 9 and 12! And I'm thinking, wait a second, in two years the 12 year old will be able to drive a car. Surely she can open the door if it gets too hot? People were saying that he should have called 911. Baffling.

Anyway, we proceed to agree that we will probably get arrested for letting Jari play out in the woods without (gasp!) parental supervision when Vlad mentions this silly bee that's been crawling on his arm, and we both remark that it's a little late for bees as we watch it bumble its way up to the dark mass perched above our transom. That's when Vlad, who knew he hadn't put a tarp on the bimini, said uh, oh.

While we were out blithely eating dinner, a bee swarm had taken up residence on our boat and were quietly sleeping in a giant clump of what must have been a few thousand.

Now, I have a bit of a bee phobia. While I appreciate bees in the theoretical sense - their importance to pollination, the delicious honey they create and their general sweet nature - I still freak out when one is buzzing around my face, so my feelings when faced with a pile of bees on our boat was more dread than anything else. Vlad, on the other hand, is a bee aficionado. He loves them and even pets them when they land on his hand. This attitude came in handy.

Then Jari woke up, and for once I was secretly thankful that my job in this bee situation was taking of the baby. We went below, shut all the hatches, and Jari and I snuggled down under the fans in what was rapidly becoming a sweat box while Vlad went to work on the bees. 

First, he put a tarp and a plastic bin under the bee blob and then pulled down one side of the bimini top so that it provided a barrier between the companion way and the hive. Then, he shook the bimini to knock the bees down, but the blob didn't move. So he broke out the samurai sword. (Yes, we have a samurai sword on board in case of pirate attack. And bear spray.) With the samurai sword, he knocked the majority of the bees into the plastic tub. Each time he did any of these things, he would then jump back down into the boat, slamming shut the door, and would wait until the bee-splosion calmed down before venturing back outside. Did I mention that he looked kind of like he was having fun doing this? Yeah, he likes bees.

So now we had a box full of bees, and because it was nighttime and the bees were especially docile Vlad was able to drop the box of bees into the dinghy. Now we had a dinghy full of bees. And I mean full of bees. There were bees in the box, clumps of bees on the outside of the box and balls of bees on the whole front of the dinghy. It was a lot of bees! 

Vlad decided that the best course of action would be to take the bees to shore, but as he was driving away from the boat he realized he couldn't beach land the dinghy because bees were covering the front of the boat. So he made a snap decision to take the bee box to our friend's boat in the marina to get some help. Perhaps this wasn't the best idea, but you know what they say. Don't judge a man until you've driven around in his dinghy full of bees.

He pulled the dinghy up to our friend's boat and tries to tie up but in the process finally pisses the bees off enough that they start taking action. He banged on our friend's boat for help, but there was no answer. Then he sprayed the bees with water, further infuriating them. At this point, there wasn't much else he could think of to do, so he left the pile of bees on the dock, thinking that they would fly away in the morning. Well, they moved onto our friend's boat. Everything turned out ok. He was able to get rid of them early the next morning, but we were pretty sure that we would be ostracized from everyone in the marina for dropping off a bucket of bees on Dock 10. Our friend wasn't mad about the situation, though he did say that he didn't want any more presents from Vlad ever again.

Vlad suffered six stings in this entire process, and most of them were at the end of the saga. We could have waited until morning to deal with the bees because sometimes they fly away on their own, but we were worried about the baby if they decided that our boat looked like a nice place to stay. Jari did get stung. We are not sure when it happened, but there were several dozen (hundred?) stragglers the next morning. I'm guessing that one of them was hiding in his life jacket and stung him when I put it on before we went to town. That was the only time I can think of that he cried. His little hand swelled up and turned red, but he didn't have a major reaction, thank goodness. 

Anyway, it was a long, bee-filled night, but aside from a few stings and the deaths of hundreds of bees, well, it could have been worse. Plus, Dock 10 doesn't hate us. 


  1. If only there were photos. Samurai sword, indeed!

  2. It would be interesting to see a video of the sword getting some use on the boat.

    I recently had to get rid of wasps from the dock side of the shore power electric box. Not good to have them around the little one either. Good to see he didn't get too bad of a reaction.

  3. What you needed was Amanda, the Bee Whisperer. So glad Vlad took acre of it and Jari did not get stung!

  4. Hi there!

    Ben, Tambi, and Molly here. Just wanted to drop a quick comment since we discovered your blog. It's cool that there are so many other people out there that are blogging about their sailing adventures. At first, we thought we might be some kind of "trendsetter" but that's certainly not the case!

    Anyways, I wanted to let you know some of our social accounts so that we can stay connected if that's alright with you.

    Our Blog:
    Our Facebook Page:
    Our Youtube Channel:

    We'll definitely be keeping in touch, and if you have a minute sometime, please also see what we've got going on as well! It's very good to know that we're kinda involved in the same sort of adventure!

    The Clardy Family
    Ben, Tambi, and Molly
    Sailboat Story