04.11.2011 27 °C
What’s all the commotion about? Why’s everyone looking up? I couldn’t see anything. Not until someone said “bees” and, straining my eyes, I could just make out a very agitated swarm of little black dots circling the top of our neighbours mast – 65 feet above!
L’alize, a South African built Compass 47, had become home to a hive of bees displaced from another boat across the jetty almost a year before. Her owner and skipper, Andy, was getting the boat ready to sail from it’s berth in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, where she’s been for the last 4 years. Now Andy wants to relocate her to Florida where it will be easier for his wife and young family to fly out from the UK and do some sailing in warmer climes.
Obviously, before he sets sail he had to get rid of the infestation. The question is “how”? But apparently this is not the first time the Guatemalan staff at the marina have had to deal with this problem. In the absence of the local beekeeper, they are extremely resourceful. Jaime sends his friend off to the jungle to gather tree moss while he rigs up the vacuum cleaner.
The plan is to burn the moss in a can and then suck up the smoke through the vacuum which is piped up through a hole in the bottom of the mast.
Meanwhile, Andy wraps cling-film all around to seal any other possible outlets.
All of a sudden the mast is no longer and L’alize becomes a steamship with smoke pouring out her highest point. This works fine for a while. The bees go mad and they fly out the top of the mast in a frenzy but all they do is circle around and are reluctant to leave.
More drastic measures are required. There’s just no avoiding it – Jaime, clad in long sleeved shirt and long pants (in sweltering heat and humidity, I might add) dons what looks like an old mosquito net and armed with a can of insect killer, is hoisted to the top of the mast to do battle with the bees. Legs and arms flailing freely he heroically strikes out and suffers only a few stings before being let down. Fortunately, he’s not allergic!
The spray seems to have done the trick and the bees start dropping from on high upon the deck beneath. In fact all the boats in the vicinity are blessed with a carpet of bees for the next couple of days. But L’alize’s mast is clear – of live bees, that is. On unwrapping it, Andy is inundated with dead insects and debris pouring out of every orifice. It will no doubt take a few raisings of the main sail to clear the inside of the mast. I’m just wondering if Andy and family will have honey on tap for their next voyage!