TownNews.com Content Exchange

LOUISBURG — Kendra Gray and her young charges were out for a stroll after lunch when they ran into a honey of a dilemma.

Gray and her two kids — plus a niece and two other children she provides daycare for — were walking on North Second Street East about a block away from the Gray’s home in the Summerfield Farm subdivision of Louisburg on Monday, May 24, when the five kids stopped under a maple tree.

“I was standing there, and I just looked up and there were thousands of bees above me. And they (kids) are all standing under the tree, and I said ‘let’s scoot this way a little bit,’” Gray said, laughing. “They all looked at it and thought it was pretty cool.”

Gray said she has a thing about wanting to rescue animals.

“Whatever it is, I’ll rescue it,” she said.

Now Gray can add honey bees to the list.

“I talked to one of my neighbors, Colleen, and I said I don’t think they should just stay up there, but I know we need to rescue them,” Gray said.

Colleen suggested Gray contact city staff, and they in turn got in touch with an available beekeeper.

Joli Winer and Cecil Sweeney, who operate Heartland Honey from their Spring Hill home, soon arrived on the scene, and Gray said she brought the kids back to watch the beekeepers at work.

Gray said she wished the bees weren’t quite so far up in the maple tree, so she and the kids could have had a better look at them.

The bees were high enough that Sweeney had to use a metal ladder to reach the swarm. He used a handheld brush to sweep them out of the tree.

“We always say ‘God makes the coolest things.’ It’s just neat that they are so enabled to do their bee thing without being annoyed that someone is literally brushing at them — he was literally taking a handheld brush and brushing them into a bucket and they didn’t sting him. He didn’t get one sting.”

Joli Winer said the collection went well.

“When a beehive gets too big, half the bees and the old queen split into a swarm and they’ll just land, so that’s normal honey bee behavior,” Winer said. “During April and May, we get a lot of calls. Sometimes we get two or three a day. We take them back and put them in a beehive.”

Winer estimated they collected 20,000 to 30,000 bees from the Summerfield Farm maple tree.

“I have never seen bees in the wild at all, so it was really neat to see they would do that,” Gray said. “It was cool that they just kind of follow the queen and go into the hive and don’t stray. It’s cool that God gives bees the instinct to do that naturally.”

Winer said finding swarms like this in an urban neighborhood is becoming more commonplace.

“There’s a lot of bees that live in old hollow trees, but there’s also a lot of beekeepers in urban areas now,” Winer said. “Someone might have one or two beehives in their backyard.

“More people have bees than have chickens in their backyards,” she said, laughing.

On a serious note, Winer cautioned people about spraying for mosquitos in the summer because that not only kills mosquitos but all flying insects — including butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

This particular swarm of honey bees probably started out close by because they have a relatively short travel radius. And they have a short lifespan.

“Honey worker bees only live for five or six weeks, and queen bees live for one or two years,” Winer said.

Winer said the rescued swarm is in good shape.

“We already checked and we have a good queen, she’s laying eggs, so it looks like it’s going to be a good viable hive,” Winer said. “Actually, we could get as much as 60 pounds (of honey), which would be like a five gallon bucket.”

Gray said although a couple of the children were tentative, at least at first, most of them really thought it was cool to watch the beekeepers at work. And it provided an entertaining and educational diversion.

“I had to actually keep moving them back away from it,” Gray said.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

This article originally ran on republic-online.com.

Locations

TownNews.com Content Exchange
comments powered by Disqus