A city swarmed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When Rebecca Raulerson stepped out the front door of her home Tuesday, she was planning to let her 5-year-old son Jacob venture out to check the mail all by himself.

“But I thought, ‘I’d better not,'” she said.

Then she noticed a shrub near the mailbox which had a badly sagging limb. She moved a little closer, and realized what weighed down the branch: a buzzing cluster pulsating with thousands of bees.

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“Thank goodness Jacob didn’t get the mail,” Rebecca, wife of Trinity Episcopal Church’s Father Aaron, said.

“I though, oh my God, we have African bees. I called Aaron and said ‘We have a problem in the front yard. Everything’s fine, but you need to come home.'”

The Raulersons live at the corner of Main and Jefferson streets. The swarm is just five or six feet from Main, and mere inches from the sidewalks.

But, Aaron said, the swarm is not “Africanized,” the term for extremely aggressive bees also called killer bees. In fact, the Raulersons were able to get quite close to the buzzing cluster for photographs, without even one sting.

After searching a while for an exterminator trained to handle bees, Aaron finally caught up with the Bee-Guy for Cook’s Pest Control in Tuscaloosa.

The bees, Aaron said, relating the Bee-Guy’s explanation, were probably migrating. When the queen chose the Raulerson’s front yard shrubbery, her colony followed suit, piling around their leader until the bee-cluster was bigger than a basketball.

Raulerson said the invasion must have happened Monday night or early Tuesday morning, because he and 5-year-old Jacob had passed the shrub many times Monday afternoon, as Jacob honed his skills on a bicycle.

Though the swarm was an unexpected, and eerie, addition to his day, Father Aaron said he couldn’t help marvelling at the wonder and variety of God’s creation.

“Especially in the season of Lent, it’s always a pleasure to see God’s creation busy at work,” he said. “I just didn’t expect His creation to come in such numbers.”

The Bee-Guy from Cook’s Pest Control, Aaron said, predicted the swarm would “move along” Tuesday night, as temperatures dropped into the 40s.

For the most part, Aaron said he liked the “once in a lifetime” chance to observe the bees up close.

“But there was also the 8-year-old boy that lives inside of me,” he said, “who wanted to wing some rocks at it.”