The problem of the ever-decreasing global bee population wasn’t a concern for one Californian resident, who recently discovered that over 50,000 pollinators had turned his home into a massive hive. After initially noticing a swarm of around 200 bees buzzing around his home, photo journalist Larry Chen grew concerned. Upon closer examination Chen was pretty astonished to find that the substantial hive had developed inside the walls of his home. But rather than exterminate the bees, Chen and Beekeeping expert Mike Bee set about safely relocating the hive.
“I’m not really terrified of the bees… I just remained calm, and I figured they wouldn’t bother me too much… I got stung once, but I was more curious about how big the hive actually was. I figured it was just a small clump of 1,000 or so,” Chen said.
After calling in a hire bee ‘specialist’, Chen, who didn’t spend much time at home due to his work, was shocked to discover that the hive was an estimated six to eights months old. After recently seeing a documentary about the endangerment of bees, Chen decided that he didn’t want to exterminate them and instead, save them – however this was not to be an easy task.
After contacting a man called Mike Bee (!), a member of the rescue organization Backwards Beekeepers, a group that works with HoneyLove.org in order to educate the public about bees, the enormous process of moving the bees began.
“My policy is to relocate, not exterminate,” the beekeeper explained to ABC News during the removal processes. Working with his wife, Mike Bee took five hours to remove the bees from the wall and was stung four times during the whole procedure.
According to Mike, the bees moved in via a ventilation pipe that airs out the attic and an area near a window. As the pipes were lined with a wire mesh, the squares were big enough for bees to fit through and the attic area served as a dark, protective shelter for the insects.
First, the beekeeper cut through the drywall and then used burnt pine needle smoke to calm the bees. He then ‘vacuumed’ the insects up in a custom-made device, so that the comb could be visible, before removing the queen, cutting out the comb and placing it in a box with the bees. The bees filled two boxes that fit 20,000 bees each, but there were still many strays, however Mike noted that the bees would be returned to the city after he completes a process called an orientation flight.
“It’s good we caught it at this time because it could have been a lot bigger,” Chen said.
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