A local beekeeper is excited this week after finding thousands of honey bees hidden within a resident’s chimney.
Marysville resident Susan Pearson says she contacted Randy Moody of Moody Bee when she noticed some bees “hanging around” her house.
“I wanted to know what kind [of bees] and if it was best to just leave them, because I didn’t want to harm them,” said Pearson. “He [Moody] came down and said they were honey bees and that he could remove them. He had no idea how many were in there either, until he removed the metal around the chimney. He actually got quite excited when he saw how many.”
She says that she wanted to make people more aware of the fact that there are “other options than pulling out a can of Raid”.
“Bees play such an important role in the environment and our lives, we need to save every one of them,” said Pearson.
Moody has years of experience as a beekeeper, and many know him and his wife Krista from their honey shop in town. Moody also works as a conservation biologist and a producer of pure, raw honey.
The Bulletin caught up with Moody to find out more about the removal process.
“The bees had actually been there for about a week by the time Susie called me,” explained Moody. “It’s relatively common to find such a hive at this time of year, and it’s less common as summer progresses.”
He added that honey bee populations are “exploding” during the spring. They reproduce, build a new queen and a new hive, which tends to happen during times when flower and pollen are abundant.
“Think of the hive as an organism itself…when honey bees arrive on scene they move in all at once, by the thousands. There are many more individuals and they are quite gentle in this state,” Moody said.
He explained that the key for transferring a hive is to ensure the queen is moved, and the rest will follow suit.
“As long as you get the queen, the rest of the bees tend to just follow. It can be a bit challenging and you have to hope that you get the queen in the process,” he said. “A friend of mine built a bee vacuum, it’s sort-of like a shop-vac that is dialled down so it won’t harm the bees, but will suck them up and make it easier to transport them.”
In terms of the number of bees, Moody says a rough estimate is 10,000.
“There’s about 10,000 in a package of bees, and this was a very similar amount,” he said. “This swarm was somewhat accessible, there was some metal sheeting and insulation but for the most part it was accessible.”
He added that he takes the bees and scrapes them into a box, which can sometimes prove to be more difficult than it was in this particular situation. He will then take the box of bees and transfer them to his own hives.
Moody says that this is a common occurrence; for people or businesses to find bees that have set up shop in their chimneys or other, similar areas. He says he has seen this many times in Kimberley, from other homes to businesses in the Platzl, and in some cases the bees have been there for years.
Determining the difference between a bee and a wasp, Moody says, comes down to their colour and texture.
“Honey bees are lightly hairy, where wasps look more polished, if you will,” he said. “Wasps are brighter yellow. This colony [of bees] were fairly black in colour. It depends on the breed of bees. Wasps also build wooden, paper nests, where honey bees build a honey comb, which is whiter in colour.”