OWEN SOUND, Ont. — The bees are gone and so is the family whose home they invaded.
A Varney, Ont., couple and their toddler son left their 1-1/2 story home over the weekend to allow for cleanup and removal of thousands of bees nesting and producing honey in their ceilings.
Loretta and Dave Yates and their young son Justin haven’t returned home, but the bees were removed during a five-hour period Monday.
The Yates family hadn’t realized the extent of the bee invasion until cracks appeared in the ceilings of the two rooms and honey began to drip onto the floors. On closer examination, they noticed a dome kitchen light fixture was also starting to fill with honey.
Beekeeper Dave Schuit and three helpers pulled down the ceilings in the kitchen and living room Monday, and successfully removed the two beehives and several honeycombs — some filled with honey, others containing brood stock.
The hive in the kitchen was missing its queen but a few bees had remained behind. Schuit suspects the queen had already left and most of its bees followed.
The queen from the hive in the living room was captured and placed in a box. The rest of the bees followed their captured queen.
“The operation was better than I anticipated. I thought it might be several hours, but we’ve got the bees and the honey,” Schuit said. “We’re just cleaning up the wax and making sure the whole house is properly plugged.”
Schuit runs a family honey business, called Saugeen Honey, south of Elmwood, Ont.
Loretta Yates was told that she and her family could return to their house shortly after the five-hour process was completed, but has decided to wait because of the cleanup and airing out the smoke used by Schuit as part of the removal process.
The smoke disorients the bees and keeps them from stinging workers in the removal operation. The home’s floors and walls have honey all over them.
Schuit estimated the number of bees in the two ceilings to be about 30,000 — down considerably from his original estimate of 180,000.
He said the smaller numbers are due in part to one of the hives having swarmed and taken off to another location, and to the fewer number of eggs that one of the queen’s had laid in the second hive.
“The queen is not laying very good,” said Schuit, pointing to several empty spots in the brood combs, where the queen was laying her eggs.
“I think it’s the same problem we’re having. Our hives came through the winter really good. We only lost 7% of our bees. But once they started planting corn with the air seeders, the chemical on the seed is a powder form and when it goes airborne, it affects the bees. The chemical from one seed is enough to kill 100,000 bees, and they plant over 30,000 seeds per acre,” Schuit said.
He said bees are threatened by the widespread proliferation of commercial insecticidescontaining the highly toxic neonicotinoids. They are a group of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine and act on the central nervous system of insects, but also on bees and small song birds.
“We’ve lost millions of bees this spring already,” Schuit said.
Yates said she’ll stay with her brother in Elmwood for the next week while the house is cleaned up and the ceilings rebuilt. She’s hoping he will help with the repairs.
“He’s taking holidays and I’m not sure I’m on his holiday list.” she said. READ MORE