Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More about Buffalo

So, the story left off when I received my test reports at BNAC on Thursday.

After that, we went to lunch with Jill and Larry. Jill was being tested on the same days as I, and we had connected online before we each traveled to Buffalo. We knew we would meet while we were all there. In just a few short days and over a fair amount of food, we became friends! We met Jill and Larry for dinner on Tuesday night (they're in the photo in the prior post), ran into each other on Wednesday during the day, had a missed connection that was totally my fault on Wednesday evening at the Chocolate Bar, and then our lunch on Thursday to compare notes.

Thursday's lunch was at a restaurant called Merge which has a great vegetarian menu. Luckily, Jill and Larry love their veggies, so we all enjoyed our lunch. We compared notes, talked about next steps, and I began to be sad as I realized that they would soon be heading home and I wouldn't see them tomorrow!

To Jill & Larry: you made the trip so special for me. I miss you both, and it meant so much to me that we were there in Buffalo at the same time.

As we left Merge and walked back to the car, I noticed something flying in the air over the street. From a distance, it looked like a big flying mass of mosquitos. Then I realized - it's a honeybee swarm! I looked at my husband, who is a beekeeper (also known as a beek) and he was as surprised as I was! There were hundreds of bees flying around looking for a spot to hang out.

In the spring when the bees are busy building up their numbers in the hive, sometimes it gets too crowded. They make a new queen and when she hatches, a huge number of bees (sometimes up to half, which can be thousands) leave the hive and fly off to find a new home. And we were lucky enough to see this right in the middle of downtown Buffalo (on Virginia, just off of Franklin to be exact)!

Before we left home, my beek-husband had collected a honeybee swarm from the local Subaru dealer. It was so amazing to see another honeybee swarm in downtown Buffalo.

I heard Jill say "I think I'm going to get in the car" and then I thought to myself, "Oh yeah - you guys are trying to leave town!" Plus, it's a little odd to stand in the street with a whole lot of bees flying around your head! We drove them back to their car, and then went back to check on "our" bees. It took several calls to finally find some phone numbers of beekeepers in the area who might be able to collect this swarm. My beek didn't reach anyone in person, but left several messages.

Honey bees are dying in huge numbers. There is an issue called colony collapse, which my dear beek can tell you all about. All I know is that bees are cool, and we need them. If you see a honeybee swarm, please don't exterminate it if at all possible. Please try to make some calls to see if you can find someone to collect it. In our area, the 911 operators have access to a "swarm list" and beekeepers will be called. You can also usually find swarm lists online, posted on the websites of local beekeeping groups.

If you're lucky enough to see the swarm flying, stand aside and enjoy. It is more likely that the swarm will look like this:

My beek took this photo just before we left our Buffalo bees. The bees found a small branch to use as their temporary home, and they began gathering. The queen is likely to be in the middle of this group. The bees will stay clustered like this until their "scouts" have found a new home, and then they'll leave. These bees had loaded up on honey before they left the hive, and are not angry - they're just focused on getting to a new home.

Here's a picture of my beek on Virginia Street making calls. You can see the bees flying if you look at the house... The bees were gathering on a branch right near the top of the sign.

So, what does this have to do with CCSVI? Well, nothing, but it's fascinating, isn't it? You should hear the gasps of disbelief when my beek husand tells his beek friends that he saw a swarm a'swarmin' in downtown Buffalo! My current obsession is CCSVI and my beek's obsession is bees! Everybody needs a hobby!

We headed to the Chocolate Bar for dessert before leaving Buffalo. It was bittersweet (pun intended!) to be there without Jill and Larry, but we enjoyed excellent chocolate desserts and coffee.

We had a day before our flight left Buffalo, and my beek had discovered a town called East Aurora. He had made a reservation at the Roycroft Inn. This was exactly what I needed. We had a beautiful room in a wonderful old inn with creaky wood floors and lots of great arts and crafts style furniture. It was a lovely, quiet retreat. My beek's other passions include architecture and woodworking, so the Roycroft was a great stop for him.

Late that afternoon we received a call from John, a beekeeper. He was planning on going into Buffalo that evening to try to collect the swarm. Hurray for John!

Back to the Roycroft: Elbert Hubbard founded the Roycroft in 1895, and it became quite the place for local artisans to make their wares by hand in response to the Industrial Revolution. In the 60's this would have been called a commune. By today's standards it would be a co-op. In the early part of the 20th century, the Roycroft campus supported hundreds of craftspeople and was self-sufficient. If my beek had lived during this time, he certainly would have been a Roycrofter. The folks of East Aurora have done a wonderful job restoring and revitalizing the Roycroft and their town.

On Friday morning, we received another call from John. He collected the swarm! Hurray for my beek and John for saving the bees!

Elbert Hubbard, founder of the Roycroft, was a writer and philospher. I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the Roycroft:

I was happy in East Aurora. We found good food, a place to rest, my beek was by my side, and there was talk of liberation! Life is good.


  1. Way to go Darren in helping a needy bee colony!

  2. A very interesting read. Thank you. I found your blog whilst researching CCSVI. The bee story is wonderful.

  3. Larry - when we got back to the bees after dropping you and Jill off at your car, I could see that determined look in his eyes. He wasn't going to walk away without doing everything he could to find someone to collect the bees.

    krcmum - Thanks! I think it is a wonderful story, too. I love happy endings, and the bees are so important. Good luck in researching CCSVI. There is a lot of info!

  4. Pam,

    I found your story because I'm obsessed with CCSVI too. ;)

    As a Buffalonian, the story of the bees is so exciting! I think bees like our city: We have 2 huge garden walk neighborhoods here, we have an amazing park system and tons of trees and in the last few years there's been a huge interest in organic co-op and community gardening. Even the City has rented lots (cleared of formerly abandoned housing) for gardens.

    Still, someone else could have easily deemed the bees a nuisance and run looking for an exterminator. What a great thing for us that it was you and your "beek" that recognized what was happening and worked to make the bees safer. If it had been me that had seen them, I'd have thought "how weird/cool" but would not have known I could do something helpful. Thanks for the lesson.

  5. Hi April,

    Thanks so much for letting me know that you're in Buffalo. I'm glad that the bees like your city. They're so important. It's great to hear about the co-op and community gardens. Good luck with your CCSVI obsession! :-)

  6. Dear Pam,
    the bee story is just wonderful!:)
    I love bees and I understand how important they are so I attract them with the many flowers that I have in my garden! I am so happy that you like them and that you appreciate them! What a nice story! It allowed us to learn more about you and sse that you have a kind and gentle spirit! :)

  7. krcmum - thanks for reading! Good luck in researching CCSVI. There is sooo much info out there. I'm going to create a few pages with some info that covers my favorite resources.

    Angela - Thanks for the kind words. Of course you like bees - Flowers 4 MS needs bees! :-) The cards and t-shirt are lovely, by the way, and my next post will be about fundraising for BNAC!