I was sitting in the aircraft hangar the other day eating lunch when the phone rang. It was the airport manager. He had a swarm of bees that landed on a branch in his backyard, and if I'd like to capture them, I was welcome to them.
Well now, it just so happened I had a few swarm traps set in the area, so I rushed down the taxiway, ran into the woods and retrieved a trap.
Back at his place, we took the lid off, placed it atop a stepladder just under the clustered swarm and shook the limb they were clinging to with one good yank. Plop! Right in the box on top of the frames, they fell.
In no time at all, they covered the old honeycomb and seemed to be pleased with the new accommodations. I slid the top back on and opened the little entrance hole to allow the stragglers to find the rest of their sisters.
All this took place within the thirty minutes of my lunch break, and I was back at work right on time!
That evening, when I checked, they had settled in, and foragers were coming and going. They were already bringing nectar and pollen back to the new hive. I told the airport manager that I would return after dark to close the entrance when they settled for the night. I planned on bringing them home with me that evening.
Unfortunately, I forgot a previous engagement so after sundown I called him to say I couldn't make it. He agreed to go out to the hive and flip the little door closed.
As it turned out, the following day was my day off, and I promised I'd get to them first thing. So, sure enough, about 8 AM I arrived at the airport to retrieve my new colony of bees.
It was a hot day, and I had a few stops to make before I got home, so I made a place for them among the boxes of tools and paraphernalia I carry around in the back seat of my truck. They would be riding in style in an air-conditioned environment.
I secured the top with a ratchet strap and taped down the little entrance door.
I had an errand to run that took me right through a notorious little hamlet that was famous for being a speed trap. For a community of less than a thousand souls, their small police force had no less than four squad cars and four officers and a Chief of Police. I always went five miles per hour less than the posted speed on account of I had been relieved of my extra cash on more than one occasion.
About the time I passed into the extended city limits a straggler from this hive of bees began buzzing around the cab of the truck. She must have been clinging to the outside all night and decided to make her presence known.
Well, either I was annoying her, and I know she was annoying me, on account of I had to duck a few times when she came at me.
This dodging and swatting, of course, caused me to swerve a bit and wouldn't you know it? This erratic behavior caught the attention of one of the officers mentioned earlier. He was sitting behind a road sign hunting for revenue.
I looked up and saw the blue flashing lights and pulled the truck over and rolled down the window. My little dive bomber found her way out.
That annoyance ended. The bigger one swaggered up to the window and before I could say anything demanded I show my drivers license and proof of insurance.
I was fishing the paperwork out of the glove box and was trying to explain again when the officer in question says, "I'll do the talking sir, YOU ONLY need to give me your license and proof of insurance."
Well! I thought it was rude of him to interrupt me like that, but I sat quietly and handed him my papers.
"Have you had anything to drink today Mr. Knowles?" he asks reading my name from the license.
"Well, no I haven't," I said irritated. The nerve of this public servant questioning my sobriety!
"It isn't even ten o'clock yet," I said, “and besides, I put my name in the hat for Sunday School Superintendent last month. I haven't touched a drop in at least three weeks!"
“Why would you ask such a question anyway?" I inquired.
This reply must have annoyed him because he snapped back rudely, "I'm asking the questions here, SIR!"
Well now, by golly, I was about to get mad. Who did this twerp think he WAS talking to ME like that!
"So, I suppose you don't mind if I search your vehicle," he says, "I bet we'll find a bottle in there. Won't we?"
I was getting flustered. Here was this young whippersnapper of a PO-LICE officer, hardly old enough to drive a car himself, talking to me as if I wasn't old enough to be his father.
I wasn't a fool. I watch those Youtube videos of officers out of control trying to violate people's civil rights.
Now, don't get me wrong, folks, I'm a big supporter of the men in blue as long as they aren't too arrogant. This fellow was the definition of arrogance.
"Search my vehicle?" I said, "SEARCH MY VEHICLE! Well, I suppose I DO mind! You, ain't searching this truck without you got yourself a warrant!" says I. "Yessir, I watch the Youtube! I know my rights, and you have to have a warrant to search my vehicle!"
About that time patrol car number two pulls up, and another officer gets out.
"Don't try to tell me the law mister, I AM THE LAW!" says officer number one. "You were swerving all over the road. That's enough probable cause for me to search this truck without a warrant. Get out of the vehicle sir!"
Now I was reasonably worked up by this point, and I hollered back. "You try to search this truck without a warrant, and you'll be sorry by golly, I'll have you arrested!"
Now I don't know what it was, perhaps he was showing off for his buddy, but he yanked my door open snatched me out of the cab, slammed me against the hood and put handcuffs on me.
"Henry," he says to officer number two, "watch this yay-hoo while I look for whatever he's been drinking up in here."
Henry takes me by the elbow and walks me over toward his cruiser. I'm glad he had the foresight to park about forty feet away.
When I looked back Officer, "I AM THE LAW" had the doors of my truck open and was dragging my stuff out on the shoulder of the road. I winced when he grabbed that swarm trap and gave it a good shake, then tossed it on the ground. He ransacked my belongings and was a little disappointed when he couldn't find any whiskey.
"What's in the box?" he asks.
"I stand on my fifth amendment right not to tell you diddly!" I said. "But I will tell you this much. If you attempt to search that box, you'll be sorry!"
You should have seen the grin on that policeman's face. He thought he had me for sure.
"Officer Henry," I asked after watching Officer "I AM THE LAW" began to rattle those bees around, "do you think we might sit in the comfort of your squad car, it's getting a might hot out here?"
I've got to give it to Officer Henry. He was a bit more accommodating than his buddy, so he opened the rear door, and I slid inside. He took the front seat while we watched "I AM THE LAW" loosen the ratchet straps on that bee box.
Now folks, if you are gentle and take those straps off slow and remember to be calm around bees, they aren't aggressive. I suppose Officer " I AM THE LAW" never learned this, on account of he slammed that box on the ground, flipped it over a few times kicked the thing for good measure and yanked the lid off.
A cloud of about 20,000 angry honey bees filled the air! They looked around and the only thing spewing out carbon dioxide and swatting the air like a mad bear was Officer "I AM THE LAW."
I'm here to tell you folks, that man danced. He jiggled and slapped himself and wiggled and swatted the insects that crawled up his pants. Then he ran around my truck a few times whooping and yelling and making those bees even madder! That bulletproof vest he was wearing must have failed the stinger test because he began shedding his clothes!
After doing his rain dance for about two minutes, he comes straight for us. I watched Officer Henry calmly push the lock button on the squad car and was relieved when I heard the bolts fall into place. Officer "I AM THE LAW" ran around the vehicle trying the doors and paused in front of Officer Henry's window.
You could barely make his swollen face out through the cloud of bees around his head. I'm not exactly sure what he was saying, but I think it was something like, "FOR GOD"S SAKE MAN LET ME IN!" Henry just shook his head and looked the other way.
God bless him!
We watched this futile battle of man against stinging insects for awhile until Officer "I AM THE LAW" jumped into his squad car and raced off swerving and swatting toward town.
When things settled down, Officer Henry asked me what Officer "I AM THE LAW" stopped me for anyway. I told him for swatting at a bee.
He only grunted then took the cuffs off me and helped me load my belongings back into my truck. He was polite and apologized for the loss of my hive.
I think I'm going to send the Mayor a bill for my lost bees, enough to recoup those old speeding tickets at least.