This was definitely one of our more tricky rescues. The US forest service notified us about a problematic Africanized honey bee hive on one of their properties in El Yunque. The hive had been previously disturbed and the bees were extra aggressive.
We started off with a visit to the forestry service office to determine the location and the best time to not interfere with other things going on in the rain forest.
We had to climb up to the top of an outdoor building and remove the roof to get access to the hive, and low and behold what did we find but 37 combs in the colony. Our El Yunque based beekeeper Jose estimated there were around 40,000 bees.
Things were going smoothly if you consider working in 90 degree weather, wearing double layers of everything due to the aggressiveness of the Africanized Honey Bees going smooth. After much sweating (and fussing) we were able to remove the roof to get at the colony. We were transferring the 10th frame when we noticed that the queen had taken flight!
She was now in the trees that towered over us a good 100 feet above the ground. After a bit of bushwacking and discussion, we were able to use the vines from the trees to shake her loose. She then returned to the roof we were working on. We decided to take a water break to let things simmer down.
Upon returning we found that she was back in the tree again. We tried the same technique of pulling on the vines to shake the trees but the vines snapped.
We then slowly smoked the bees from the ground over the next hour, unfortunately the Queen decided that she would try another tree. She really wasn't interested in giving up easily.
Luckily for us, our new beekeeper Natasha had had some gymnastics training and she was able to climb about 60 feet in the air and dueled the queen bee one on one. Another hour and a lot of tree shaking later the queen was finally back on the roof.
We took another break to find some swimmers had decided that now would be a good time for a dip in the river, little did they know that 100 feet away was an angry swarm of Africanized bees! After informing them of the danger and coaching them to safety it was back to the roof with the smokers, and finally this time we were successful. 7 hours later!