When a hive of bees took up residence in her rental property, Dunn Realtor Brenda Powers knew she had to help find them a new home.
“I like animals better than I do people,” Ms. Powers said, adding she couldn’t kill the bees but had to find a way to relocate the hive.
Ms. Powers found the flying insects at the home on the outskirts of Dunn.
“I gave the bees about six weeks to eight weeks in hope that they would fly somewhere else,” Ms. Power said. “And then there was so many I knew that they had fallen in love with the hole in the brick wall as there was hundreds or more every day.”
That’s when Ms. Powers contacted Debra Horne, a beekeeper who Ms. Powers’ brother, a pecan farmer and crop duster, knew in Sampson County.
Ms. Horne came to the rescue, bringing all the necessary equipment to capture the swarm and move them to a new location. It took the “bee lady” about an hour or an hour and a half to set everything up and find the queen bee, Ms. Powers said.
“You must search for the queen in the beginning as she is very important to the hive surviving and the worker bees not flying off,” Ms. Powers said.
The two women used a saw that Ms. Powers had in her car to cut into the wall. What they found totally took Ms. Powers by surprise — about 60,000 bees, hard at work building their hive and protecting the queen.
Ms. Horne used a type of bee vacuum which is very low powered to remove the bees from the hive as she tried to get to the queen. Ms. Powers said there were about 500 bees who made it their job to sit on top of the queen and try to protect her during this process.
“This beekeeper lady told me that she takes these hives once rescued and will put them in a box ... or put them into another hive,” Ms. Powers said, “and some will stay and some will leave.”
The entire extraction process took close to six hours. Ms. Horne took the bees to her hives in Sampson County. After the hole in the wall was closed, there were a few bees left behind that Ms. Horne had to retrieve later in the day.
“What an experience for me to get to see all this,” Ms. Powers said.
Ms. Powers said that most people do not grasp the fact that without bees humans would be in a difficult situation because of how detrimental they are in cross pollinating our fruits and vegetables.
“This was very exciting for me to know they were not killed,” Ms. Powers said. “This woman really did work very hard and does this as a way of saving the bees.”
Ms. Powers hopes the public will get educated and think before they rush out to the store to buy insecticides to kill bees.
According to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, “Many crops require insects to move pollen from one flower to another. Pollination ensures fruit set, proper development, more fruit and viable seed. Honey bees are the most important insect pollinator for crops grown in North Carolina.
“Vegetable and fruit crops that require honey bees include cucumbers, blueberries, watermelons, apples, squash, strawberries, melons and peaches.
“Forage crops that benefit from honey bee pollination include alfalfa, cotton, peanuts and soybeans.”
The majority of produce you purchase in the grocery store is there because of honeybees.
“Most people don’t realize that about 85 percent of the food you see in the grocery store is touched by a honeybee somewhere along the way, basically when the plants are flowering,” said David Johnson of Newton Grove, president of the Sampson County Beekeepers Chapter.
“Honeybees account for $15 billion worth of farm produce every year across the U.S.,” he said.
If you find a swarm of bees it is best to take care of the situation as soon as possible.
“The sooner you get them the less damage you have,” Mr. Johnson said. “Don’t just walk away.”
“The best thing is to call a beekeeper,” he said about removing the bees. After two days, the group of bees are no longer called a swarm, but are called a hive.
One thing a homeowner can do is to keep your house as tight as you can. Mr. Johnson said if there is a hole in a wall, bees will get in there.
Bees swarm generally from about April until August or early September.
“The queen will leave the hive and take half or more of the bees with her,” Mr. Johnson said. “There is no apparent reason why they do this it’s just one of the things that happens.”