• Shelly Bandelman

Honey Bees Can't Swim

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Last week our bathroom was really stinky. Between Noah’s pre-teen boy smells and Brian’s explosive tummy (benefit of some medication he takes) our bathroom definitely has its moments, but this smell would not go away. We kept flushing the toilet hoping for some relief. None came.


As the days progressed the rest of the house began to stink. We checked the washing machine for “lost socks”, we checked the laundry for unmentionables, we began to search behind appliances and furniture to find what had died. The house smelled BAD!


Finally, we determined our water was the source of the smell. Something had crawled into our upper water tank, the one that gravity feeds into our house, and died! Our askari, Bosco, climbed 20 feet up to the top of the tank to see what he could see through the swarm of flies surrounding it. We assumed a rat had somehow squeezed beneath the cover on top. Maybe a snake had slithered in. We definitely did not anticipate what greeted Bosco.


The tank was full of a swarm of dead and rotting honey bees! They had entered around a hose inlet either to find water (we have had little rain this month) or to set up a new hive. Either way, the end result was death and decay!


Bosco spent the morning scooping putrid, black blobs of honey bee bodies out of the tank with my mesh kitchen strainer. As afternoon approached, Brian and I began watering our small tomato, watermelon, pineapple, and herb gardens from the tank. Bosco moved the drain hose to water the flower beds at the Mission House next door to our house. Water was applied to the lawns, trees, and anything else we could think to water. 3,000 liters is A LOT of water, we didn’t want to waste it, but what do you do with water that smells of death?


Brian open the house valves and the pipes ran clean. The washing machine and kitchen sink filter were cleared of the decomposing carapaces. Bosco scrubbed out the tank, and it was time to refill. A gallon of bleach was poured in the now clean tank and water was pumped up to refill it. Soon dishes had been rewashed, the kitchen sanitized, and we scrubbed everywhere the putrid water had touched. Our house smelled cleaner than it ever had.


Not only has clean water been restored, but we still have a plethora of honey bees pollinating away! Crisis averted and counting our blessings!




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