there was honey in the kitchen

so i recently bought a new house. oddly enough, there were some little water spots dripping from the ceiling in the kitchen. well, i figured, it must be that the old owners are just very overactive dish-cleaners. two days before the house became legally mine, i learned that it was not spots of water up there...

it was HONEY.

this is the sink in the kitchen. a closer look reveals the ceiling drip, before the removal.

yes, it was honey.

a year or two back, the old owners had noticed a bunch of bees flying into the vent outside the kitchen (the one which carries out exhaust from the stove). the bees never flew into the kitchen, somehow. (this mystery gets explained later.)

the old owners had the vent area / bees fumigated, but the hive was never removed. i am told that most bee-exterminators will recomm..end removing hives, so i don't know why it wasn't done. maybe they didn't think that the bees had had enough time to build one.

the old owners did have honey cascading down the summer before i bought the place, but then it stopped so they figured it had gone away. turns out that it had just cooled down during the spring, and then began melting again when it heated up ... right about the time i moved in.

honey was dripping from up there down onto a strip of tinfoil we laid out to catch it. we had to change the foil every few days in august / september, but as it cooled down we only had to change it roughly weekly.

i talk about this as though this is a normal problem now. "oh, just have some honey dripping from the ceiling, honey." heh.

honey was also dripping from the other side of the kitchen ceiling, into a cabinet (here's a closer look).

i had exterminators out to the house, and asked their opinion. i was surprised when the exterminators told me there was a company that dealt exclusively with this. shocked to learn that the company (All Valley Honey) actually removes up to 15 honeydrips a day(!) in the los angeles area. dumbfounded that this is actually a common problem. who knew?

they told me i was bee-free, because if there had been bees there, the flapping of their wings would have kept the honey cool enough to not melt.

talk about learning something new every day.

they went in through the vent outside, rather than digging up through the ceiling.

the hive, because it was one/two years old, had melted a great deal. apparently what happens is that it crumbles down into black dust and honey, so for the most part it doesn't look like a hive anymore or is just a lot of dust. so you might not recognize one piece of the hive for what it is.

here one of the bee guys holding another piece of hive. all the glistening stuff is the honey in the hive ready to drip. that metal there, by the way, is the piece of the stove exhaust vent they temporarily removed, not because the hive was in it, but because it was in blocking their access to the hive ...

... see, the bees didn't fly into the vent and down the exhaust vent to the stove - this is why they never got inside the house. they flew into the rectangular shaped vent and then AROUND the circular duct behind the vent into the ceiling area of the kitchen. and there they settled. notice that the drip is coming from the area above the sink, right next to where that duct is.

apparently bees like to nest just inside the walls. the honey people were nice and did add a screen to the inside of the vent to prevent this from happening again. odd that one wasn't there before, eh?

they extracted a total of roughly 100lbs of honey/hive. they filled three heavy potato-sack-sized bags full of them. check out this bag full of hive and honey. while you are at it, check out another bag full of hive and honey.

they scraped out a lot of other honey and hive; i couldn't photograph it all or this would go on forever. 100lbs of hive/honey is quite a lot. what else can i really say about it?

i think the picture that best conveys the magnitude of the problem, the one that most makes me feel like the problem was well-dealt with, the one that really is worth 1000 words, is one i took of a worker removing a chunk of hive ...

... though unposed (and consequently serendipitous), this photo says it all.

/ k / november 8 2002 /