Jackie Dale: TheCatMother/Cat Trapper Bee Invasion and Kittens Galore

May 16, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Jackie Dale, Reedley News

by Jackie Dale

Bee Invasion
The past month has been interesting to say the least. I live in the country surrounded by orange trees, and every year the trees bloom for about a three-week period. During this time bee keepers bring their hives in so their bees can make the oh-so-luscious orange blossom honey. There are literally hundreds of hives in a one-mile radius of my home. Every year a bee keeper from Sacramento rents a piece of my land for his hives for which I receive a bit of cash and a gallon of honey.

This year was a little different from the others. In a span of ten days, I had SEVEN swarms of bees take up residence on my property. They moved around my yard. First the tree over my driveway, then a tree in the dog’s exercise area which necessitated me running in to grab the dog who was so freaked out she just stood there. I got stung below my eyebrow for my efforts. The first two times I called a local bee keeper to come remove the huge clusters. He said that when a colony gets too big, the Queen will leave, taking with her half of the workers and leaving behind eggs, one of which will contain a new queen. The bees swarm and form a cluster with the queen in the center. Scout bees then go searching for a suitable new home, like a hollow tree, and then will move into it within a day or so.

The first swarm was about 4,000 bees, the second one was twice as big. They seemed to get bigger with each swarm. Each time they would eventually leave but always returned. I don’t know for sure where the bees came from, if it were the same bees or a different swarm each time. Nothing is quite as freaky as watching 10,000 bees flying around your yard. They landed in my peach tree and formed a cluster the size of a large watermelon. I went out there to thin my peaches, saw all the bees, spun around, and quickly retreated thinking, “Not today!” By time #7 rolled around, the cluster was enormous, the size of a beach ball. The local news was interested, and they came out and did a little spot for the evening news. By now my friends were calling me “The Crazy Bee Lady,” “The Crazy Cat/Bee Lady,” “Queen of the Bees,” you get the idea. Eventually, the blooms were done, the bees all left, and order was restored in the Cat/Bee kingdom. Until next year…(?)

Back in Business!

Happy cat going to rescue

We just received word that our rescue is once again accepting cats, and the first transport of five adult cats is already organized. Of course, they are over-inundated with kittens, so they aren’t taking any of those. It’s that time of year, the infamous kitten season. Lots of Facebook posts of found kittens, “my cat had kittens,” dumped/abandoned kittens, it is a virtual tsunami of kittens. We are pretty full at this point with approximately thirty-five kittens spread out among six fosters. Fortunately adoptions have been brisk. Twelve kittens have already been reserved. I even have adopters traveling from Sacramento and Los Angeles to see my kittens. They say they are having trouble finding healthy kittens at all, and the ones they have found are very expensive. Lucky for me these people have relatives who know of me and pointed the people in my direction. One woman with a large Arabian horse ranch is adopting three cats, siblings, all of them black. She requested siblings and said color wasn’t an issue. She wants a bonded set of cats to live in the house and accompany her out to her stables during the day. She will have her own little mini house panthers!

The Orange, The White, & The 50-50 Cat
Every year seems to bring a particular color of cats, and I thought this year was the year of the orange. Turns out to also be the year of the white, and the orange and white cat. People go crazy for white cats so those just fly out the door. I had a couple of super fluffy cats that got picked up by a specialty rescue. By specialty, I mean they only take a particular kind of cat. I hope the adopters keep coming.

An Unfortunate Situation
A fellow trapper called me about this cat she had trapped and fixed. However, the cat had a serious disability, and my friend asked if I had a better option for this cat than returning it to the colony. I told her we could bring it to the refuge basing my decision on the assumption that if the cat had been living in a colony already, it would be fine. Then I saw the cat. One of its front legs almost points backwards. I could not believe that this cat had survived at all in this condition. The vet said that at some point, both front legs had been broken and obviously never treated. I gave the cat to my refuge’s caretaker/feeder for further evaluation. We determined that the refuge would not be safe place for a cat in this condition. Unfortunately she is feral which further compounds finding her placement. The caretaker is now able to pet her while she eats so I see some potential to bring her around somewhat. I contacted a special needs rescue, but they are not set up for feral cats.

Bottle Babies
I currently have twelve bottle babies, but most are now transitioning to solid food. That means a mush of can food and formula which they frequently swim through. Bottle feeding may be a lot of work, but at least it is far less messy than the “learn to eat” stage. Then there is the onslaught of “starving” ninjas armed with tiny knives that attack when I enter the room at mealtime. First I placed the kittens in boxes to wait for their turn, but it didn’t take long before they were able to get out of the boxes. So I sat on the edge of the tub with feet propped on the toilet until they started jumping up into my lap. Now desperate because my legs are looking like shredded meat, I stand on the edge of the tub as I feed. I figured it was only a matter of time before I fell and hurt myself, so I then hit on idea that actually worked pretty well. I sat with MY feet inside of a box. It worked like a charm!! Now, if I can just remember to keep my fingers to the back of the baby bottle when feeding because they will, every single time, manage to hook one of those needles known as claws, into your cuticle. So. Very. Painful.

I had one tiny baby that was found alone. A friend had a semi feral mom cat who had just given birth. She brought the cat and her kittens to my house, and I added my kitten to her brood. However, mom was so traumatized by the move that she refused to feed the kittens or even go near them. So my friend had to come back and retrieve the family. Mom was happy to be home and is feeding her four plus my extra one. The kittens will be removed at about 3-4 weeks, before they go feral and the mom will be fixed.

If you would like to donate to help fund TNR projects, support the feral refuge, or any aspect of my cat-related work, it would be greatly appreciated. I have a GoFundMe account under my name or my husband has a Paypal account steamodale@gmail[dot]com. You can send also send donations via snail mail to Jackie Dale, P O Box 1859, Reedley, CA 93654. Questions? jackiejoy@hotmail[dot]com.

You can check out more animal rescue articles in KRL’s animal rescue section!

Jackie Dale is a freelance writer who lives in Reedley with her husband of 27 years, Frank, and their 2 children. A former ballerina, Jackie now teaches yoga and fitness classes privately and at local area gyms in addition to her cat related duties.


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