Wednesday, November 16, 2016

bee poop

Little birdy flying high 
Dropped a message from the sky 
A farmer who was passing by 
Said, " 'tis a mercy PIGS don't fly


My view of The Garden from my workspace where I make lotions and soap.
That's a dirty window!

Honey bee flying high
Dropped a message from the sky
To a neighbor walking by
"'tis a mercy pigs don't fly!"

Everyone Poops
Many of you reading this will have heard of, or even read to your children, the book Everyone Poops by Tarō Gomi. And as the title suggests every living thing poops. Even bees poop. It's too bad Tarō didn't mention that in the book.  Maybe then it wouldn't come as a surprise to neighbors looking for who or what to blame for the yellow rain in the neighborhood. When you have 40,000+ bees living in a hive, collectively that's a lot of poop! Bees are a lot like us. Babies poop in the bed, the adults clean it up. Adults hold it all night and never poop in the bed. In the morning they go to the bathroom shortly after flying off to work and then once or twice more during the day.

Their poop comes down like rain and gets everywhere. If you live near a hive you may have noticed little yellowish brown oblong spots on your car or house windows.  If you look close, you'll realize that you've seen it everywhere without thinking about it. It's on plants, the sidewalk, your house, your dog. Ever felt a little drop of rain when there wasn't a cloud in the sky? That might have been bee poop! And it's not easy to clean up! Honey, wax, nectar, pollen all end up in a honey bee's gut and what comes out is a gooey sticky mess.

It's a nightmare!
You might have to squint, but there are literally
hundreds of bee droppings all over our car!
It takes some warm water and elbow grease to get it off your car completely.  It can be a nightmare! At least that's what my neighbor believes.  She put it, "Your hobby is my nightmare."  Some of you may be able to sympathize with her, but most of my (few) followers will think her worries a sad example of a first world problem.  And one that ignores the greater good that bees play in the environment and in food production. But she is not alone in being furious by being made to live under a constant barrage of bee poop.  A quick Google search of "neighbors complain about bee poop" yields these quotes (among others):

This year the landowner at the rear of my house installed approximately fifteen hives. Consequently, for three months now my house and cars have been smothered in bee poop. The beekeeper has said he will move the hives further along the field and this may alleviate the problem. I wonder if this is true. The nuisance is prolific; all my windows need cleaning daily as well as the cars.  

Look closer. That's poop on our car!
The woman said she is embarrassed to have people over because they go "EEEUUUUWWW" when they see the bee poop. The man said he is going to have to re-side his house since the bee poop won't come off with a pressure washer. 

I deserve a better quality of life. Look, my son has bee poop on his head right now!

But that's not all! There's this thread from right here in Sunnyside, SF! 

On September 8th, Sap falling on cars and houses:

The original post: I was wondering if anyone knows where all the sap (or infected tree with bugs) is coming from. We thought it was from the palm tree on our street, but it seems to be in many other areas. This is the first year it has been this bad. It's on the side of the houses where the wind blows and all over the cars. It's very hard to clean off. Not sure if it is sap or what.
         - When I saw this, I was pretty sure she was describing bee poop. I stayed quiet, hoping her concern would go unaddressed.  I wasn't that lucky. Took about 2 weeks before she came knocking on my door.

If it is small yellowish drops, that is bee poop. Super hard to clean. Someone could make a fortune inventing bee poop solvent.

If anyone knows a home mixture to safely remove the drops from car paint, I would sure love to know it. I ran my car through the car wash on bayshore 4 times. There was still poop that survived the trips.

Original poster: Thanks for all the responses. I am all for bees living in nature, but I am not sure if we need so many bee keepers in our neighborhood. It has really decreased our outdoor enjoyment. It is on our chairs, house paint, windows, cars, everything. What a drag.

Took my car to the car wash because they recycle water instead of having water run into the gutter. They ran the car through twice but were unable to get the crud off.
We noticed this happened last
 year but it has particularly heavy this year. It's a never ending struggle to keep the spots off my car and it is quite annoying. If you leave the gunk on the car for any length of time and then scrape them off they"ll eat through the car finish and fade the paint.
Anyone have a brainstorm as to how to deal with this please post them here so we can quit wearing our fingernails down to nubs. Thanks!

The original poster is the neighbor living a "nightmare" due to my "hobby". Not only that, turns out she lives right behind us on the other side of the Sunnyside Conservatory. But you can see, she's not alone in her frustration. If you know me, you know I try to be a good neighbor, and it pains me that I may be contributing to someone's discomfort.  But is it really so bad to have bee poop on your car?  If I really am causing a nuisance in the neighborhood, I need to know and I'll do what I can to mitigate the problem. 

This neighbor has gone door to door to survey the neighborhood to... I'm not quite sure what her intention is.  She says it's to survey the neighborhood to see what can be done to solve this problem because "we just can't live like this".  To me it feels a little like she's gathering torches and pitch forks to run me out of town. So what do I do?  

Check out this enormous bee poop! That's on the
inside of my car left by a bee that got out when I
moved Adena's bees up to The Land.
I'm not the only neighbor with bees. And not even the neighbor with bees closest to her!  Right across the street from her a neighbor has (had) three hives.  He very graciously agreed, at her urging, to remove two of his hives! I succumbed to pressure, and just this past weekend moved my hive that used to reside in my friend's garden who also lives behind us.  Her hive was about the same distance from the distraught neighbor's house as the two hives I have in The Garden.  I drew the line there, however, and said I was not moving my two hives that I, and many neighbors other than her, have grown to love and enjoy. In our negotiations, she reluctantly agreed to not pursue any further action - she has already talked to the agricultural commission, went to a meeting of the SF beekeeper's association (she got no love there, as you might imagine), and went around taking pictures of windows and cars and google mapped hives in the neighborhood. We will revisit the issue in the spring when the bee population is once again on the rise and we can see what the result of three less hives in the neighborhood is.  A neighbor on the block just a bit further from her than my hives also has a hive. A woman a couple blocks away has many hives, Glen Park School has a hive (at least they used to), and many other neighbors in the surrounding neighborhood do as well.  So I am very skeptical that removing a few hives is going to make a difference in the amount of bee poop on her car. When she is not satisfied I fear she won't quit till she has purged every hive from the neighborhood. That can't be the solution.                                   

Do bees belong in the urban environment? 
I love my bees.  I sometimes will just watch them for minutes (hours would sound better, but I'd be lying) go in and out of their hives. Bees are so important to our human survival and the entire planet.  They are an integral part of the ecosystem and without them, the system would collapse. If you're still reading this, then you've undoubtedly heard that we can thank honey bees for every third bite of food and you know about colony collapse disorder.  Next time a bee poops on you, you might say, "thank you." 

But urban bees aren't essential to our survival.  My bees aren't pollinating almonds or apple orchards. They are not part of the natural food web of the world. In fact they may be outcompeting native bees of California. 😟  Urban bees do, however, serve a purpose beyond being someone's hobby. First and foremost, they provide honey for consumption.  Who can't get behind a locally produced food that is fun and arguably a healthy alternative to more traditional sweeteners? For those suffering allergies it may help build up immunities to pollen allergies. Honey and it's accompanying wax can be made into many great products including candles, soap and lotions. Most importantly, urban bees raise awareness to the plight of bees around the world thus highlighting the fragility of our planet. Can anything than the fate of our planet be more important!

What do you think? Should urban beekeeping be regulated? Maybe all hives should be registered and a limit imposed on the number of hives in a given area.  Is there a solution I haven't thought of? I'm hopeful that my neighbor will grow to accept some dirty windows as an acceptable inconvenience of urban living.  There are so many great things about living in San Francisco. Is it really a nightmare to live under a yellow rain, where some neighbors, when a bee drops a little love on them, look up and give thanks for what we have.

Stay sweet!

As I sat under the apple tree
a honey bee sent her love to me
and as I wiped it from my eye
I said “thank goodness cows can’t fly!"

Little birdy flying high 
Dropped a message from the sky 
A farmer who was passing by 
Said, " 'tis a mercy PIGS don't fly
Little birdy flying high 
Dropped a message from the 
A farmer who was passing by 
Said, " 'tis a mercy PIGS don't fly

1 comment:

  1. You are an excellent neighbor and I hope that the compromise you've made giving up a hive will show that people can cooperate with each other when their priorities differ. We will have to wait and see if the neighbor who thinks your hobby is her nightmare can step back and appreciate that her communicating with her neighbors was effective. Also, hobby implies self interest and your beekeeping is carried out with a focus on the community as well as your own enjoyment. You've talked to Girl Scouts, hosted honey fundraisers benefiting schools and charities, invited neighbors to The Garden to swap creations, and more. Thank you for having a heart that extends farther than the bees' foraging range and for keeping the community and the earth in mind in all that you do.