Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Is spring springing?

"Bees! They're ripping my flesh!..."

So screams Chris Farley's Tommy Callahan in Tommy Boy to shake off pursuit by a couple of state troopers. Locally it seems we're getting perhaps more than our fare share of "bee cases" around town.

Bee calls have increased threefold in some parts of the Valley, fueled by rainy weather that provided perfect conditions for bees to swarm and form new colonies.

But fire calls aren't always an accurate measure of bee activity: many people call bee professionals directly when they have a problem. And this year, experts say they're busier than ever. "The business is out of control because of the amount of rain we have been having," said Rob Duffin, whose Atomic Bee Control and Bock's Bee'sss in Mesa field 50 to 75 calls a day. "Everything is healthy for the bugs and the bees." Bee removal companies and exterminators said they are adding trucks and employees to crisscross the Valley to handle double the number of calls this year of bees lodged in chimneys or holed up at apartment complexes.

I've been waiting for the last of the rain to disappear before tackling the Spring bug problem in the back yard. I know it's coming, I'm prepared for it but I don't want to spring the trap too soon! Hadn't thought about bees however. And with two dogs it could be a concern, just as it might with small kids. The animals don't know better than to aggravate a swarm of bees; they're just being curious after all! Thankfully our home is still in good enough shape that it doesn't allow for potential hive sites.

As always if confronted with an active swarm of bees around your property, take appropriate cautions:

"Bees rely on flowering plants, melons and citrus, said Chandler Battalion Chief Dan Couch. We don't have that much anymore, and we are not seeing the swarms we used to."Duffin said people should check roofs and foundations for bees and have them removed. He said bees are scent-driven and don't like strong perfumes or oil from a lawnmower."When people take action (against beehives) the bees get angry," Duffin said. "People need to take it serious because (a bee attack) can happen very quickly," he said. "(Some people) don't know what they are doing and they put themselves in jeopardy and the public around them."

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