The land where the DSC is located was first settled by Europeans in the 1840’s. By mid 1860 the original log cabin was replaced by the construction of a lovely stone house that is the centrepiece to this day among the barns, sheds and shelters that dot our 200 acres.
The house is large, 4500 square feet. One half is a residence while the other is now the location of offices and meeting rooms. All of the day to day administration of the Sanctuary goes on within its walls. The house serves us well but over the past century and a half its exterior has been pounded by storms and frost. As a result, countless small openings have developed where the roof meets the walls. These gaps are particularly attractive to animal and insect life. Mice, snakes, birds, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, cluster flies: all have found ways to get inside. There is never an end to the little holes which have to be plugged.
Since they began working in the house, staff members have become accustomed to the sudden appearances of scurrying creatures in the rooms, racing along the floors, hoping not to be seen. Given that history, people were not surprised when, earlier this year, bees made their appearance around desks and computers. At first there were only a few bees buzzing around but when the numbers increased we realized that something had to be done. Investigations began and up in the attic it was discovered that a very large beehive had evolved over an unknown period of time. A beekeeper was called. Subsequently, thousands of bees were corralled and transported to a more appropriate location. Afterwards, two hundred pounds (!) of honey were removed from the hive. Problem solved – or so we thought.
In late August, it developed that repairs had to be done to the house’s old chimneys. Craftsmen were called but when they arrived to begin work they discovered yet another beehive located inside one of the flues. Once again, the beekeeper’s help was sought and this time 60,000 (!) bees were moved to another site. 100 pounds of honey were taken out in turn.
These bee ‘excavations’ have been costly and we have come to recognize the obvious, which is that the bees find in our fields much of what they need for making their honey. Next spring we will install several boxes for beehives at the edge of the fields – but far from visitors, of course.
At this moment, the old house appears to be free from little, unwelcome residents. However, colder weather is on the way and so it goes without saying that from inside the walls sounds of scurrying feet and buzzing insects soon will be heard. Over the course of the winter we expect that sundry creatures will have to be moved from the house; at this point, though, we don’t expect them to be bees.
In our crowded world, accommodation is the order of the day.
Sandra Pady, Founder