Most people will survive getting stung by a bee, and yet, we all share that sense of terror when one gets trapped in your kitchen with you. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is the scariest part: the aggravating buzzing in your ear, the constantly erratic movements in the corner of your eye, or the fact that you know they’re willing to sacrifice their lives just to lay that painful stinger in your flesh. Now imagine it’s not just one bee. Most people figure as long as bees stay in their own homes, that everything will be ok. However, one woman would discover that she was going to need some professional help.
When Every Season Is Bee Season
Of all of the property nightmares people are worried about dealing with at home, having an infestation of any sort is terrifying.
It’s so uncommon that most people don’t ever even imagine it happening before it does, but one Tennessee homeowner knew something was wrong when she continued to hear a strange noise coming from the walls. When she looked closer, she realized she was going to need to call in a professional.
No More Bees Please
When help finally arrived to take a look, they were totally unprepared for the situation on their hands. Honeybees had clearly been colonizing without interference for a while, and the lady of the house had assumed the problem couldn’t be that bad.
Pest control realized that the damage already done was going to be difficult to even measure, and knowing the environmental significance of bees, they insisted it was time for her to call a man known as The Bee Whisperer.
The Bee Whisperer
The Bee Whisperer’s real name is David Glover. He’s another Tennessee local and a bee behavior specialist, which qualifies him to remove beehives, and has allowed him to make a living dealing with bees for the past nine years.
It’s no easy job – the potential for danger is quite high, and David has been stung plenty of times over the years. But he won’t say a bad thing about bees, and after he’s done his job, he even safely rehabilitates them.
Germantown or Beetown?
Bees and humans have a mostly accidental relationship to each other, and since they behave very differently from each other, it’s a confounding experience to see them trying to live under the same roof.
That lead David to witness many peculiar situations during his time of being called on site over serious bee business. But despite all that he’s seen in his time, he was totally unprepared for the call that brought him to this one bee-filled home in Germantown, Tennessee.
In order to find the source of the bees, the Bee Whisperer needed to get prepared for some bee action by dressing himself in a protective layer.
In order to colonize, bees only need one little hole in the foundation of the house. But that means that once you’ve found the hole, a surprising number of bees might come flying out of it – and having a bunch of bees fly at your face is not a moment you want to be unprotected for.
It wasn’t long before David found the infiltrated hole in one of the brick walls of the house, behind which he realized there must be a colony of bees.
From behind the wall, it wouldn’t be hard at all for some of these bees to access different parts of the house. But the Bee Whisperer was starting to get the sense that this bee business was much bigger than what he or anyone else is used to.
The Bee Hole
David doesn’t mess with uncertainty – he knew that starting to work on this hive without knowing more about it meant trouble. So he decided to bust out his fancy bee tools in order to take an infrared scan of the side of the building where the bees were coming from.
By picking up the waves being emitted from the body heat of the bees, this scan would give him a much more accurate sense of the colony’s size. What he saw was a jaw-dropping shock.
The hive behind the wall was taller than him and wider than any hive he’d ever seen. In order to take the hive apart, Glover had to find the point where they had first entered the wall – this is where the hive-building begins.
In order to choose this spot, bees initially send out “scout bees.” David found their point of entry in a hole that drains water between the bricks. It seems like a really tight squeeze, but once the building starts, it grows fast.
Bee A Saviour
If David had only wanted to get rid of the bees, he would have been able to without much hard labor or careful preparation. But unlike exterminators who are called to do the same job, the Bee Whisperer is against simply killing off the hive.
He believes it isn’t right, but if that reason can’t always convince homeowners, there’s also the fact that killing them leaves behind huge stains. However, he didn’t just want to save their lives…he wanted to relocate the entire colony.
Relocating the colony means safely removing the hive piece by piece, and that comes with some hefty risks. Even getting to the hive in the first place would require David to remove bricks from the house, which could damage its foundation and be dangerous to those inside.
Of course, there’s also the little detail of bees naturally reacting to their home being torn apart with an attack, and a possible bee swarm could easily harm David. What could possibly go wrong here, right?
However, the Bee Whisperer was determined to do it. So he carefully started deconstructing the bricks near the hive’s point of entry into the house. As he removed brick after brick, he kept finding more parts of the hive behind each one.
He had never anticipated the hive, or the job, being this big or this much work, and was still unsure of how much was to come – but he already knew this hive was legendary. So he set up a camera to film himself doing the job.
In order to get his hands on the hive, he first needed to get most of the bees out. Smoke is a useful tool for this because bees dislike the smell of smoke and it disrupts their communication with one another.
However, too much of it can be fatal to them – after terrifying them into attacking. So David sprayed smoke over just a few small parts to get them moving, and then he watched swarms of the bewildered bees begin to disperse.
Rows on Rows
Then, David got started with drilling into the brick to separate it from the wall and access the hive. It ultimately took removing 12 rows of bricks just to expose it.
Once he could see the network of passages that made up the hive, he understood just how deep its layers were. He was contemplating how to remove them while keeping their shape, when he suddenly found a clue about the massive scale of the hive that shocked him even more than the size itself.
The enormous bee home engineering that David was looking at was actually not one but TWELVE hives – each one with its own colony surrounding individual queen cells.
And they had been growing without restriction for so long that each hive was beyond its own capacity, brimming over, and David could see that the bees were already making preparations to start a new colony. The entire already massive structure could begin to literally double at any time, and it urgently needed to be prevented.
Slow Like Honey
But in order to take it apart while keeping the structure of the hive in tact, David would need to work with extreme care to dismantle each piece of the complex tunnels and passageways connecting the entire hive in a way that would preserve them for rehabilitation.
He even extracted the honey out, despite the fact that this nearly doubled the amount of time this entire process would take. Once most of the honeycombs were removed, he saw something incredible behind them.
A Honey Painting
Where the hive had been attached to the wall, the thousands of little bee feet had created a giant honey mural! It wasn’t removable, but a stain isn’t quite as bit of an issue as a beehive. What was important was to clean up the mess that was left.
Dangerous bacteria can actually be found inside beehives, so it required a thorough job. With the hive fully removed from the house, David was left with one problem: where could he relocate the bees?
Bringing Home The Babees
At this point in the process, David even surprised himself by taking all 30,000 bees back home with him. It would only be temporary, until he could find a good location for the colony to rebuild itself.
His backyard was no stranger to bees, so he was hopeful that the newcomers and the local residents would get along. But he knew that for farmers interested in pollination and honey production, his colony-in-waiting was a goldmine that would soon repay him for his care.
A Viral Post
After David posted his operation on social media, it was given a whopping 80,000 likes and shares. It included some important and little-known information about these bees – specifically, about what type of bee they are, and why this type should be preferred.
You see, he was fortunate that the bees which he removed were one of the less aggressive types. But there are other types, and one, in particular, is starting to wreak havoc around the American South.
Today in the South, there is another type of honeybee that is so vicious it has been nicknamed the “killer honeybee.”
During a bee shortage not too long ago, these bees were brought over from Africa by biologists, thought to be accustomed to hot climates and advantageous for honey production. What nobody expected was that these bees would breed with the European honeybees, and create a new type of monster. They are prone to attack, and they have started to spread like wildfire.
A Harder Hive
In another recent scenario, one pest control agent was not as lucky as our Bee Whisperer. Around the same time as David’s extraordinary event, another removal expert named Claude Griffin was called for a disastrous case in Houston.
His first sense of unease came from the deafening noise of the bees. Then he saw the two enormous hives taking up an entire wall of the home, each around 10 feet in height. And they’d been developing their beehive there for almost 20 years already.
A Near Loss
But there was no bee whispering taking place that day, because these were killer honeybees. It took the crew almost the entire day in order to remove the huge hives, and Griffin guesses that there were up to one million bees inhabiting this house.
By the time it was finally done, Griffin had been stung over 40 times. and when it comes to killer honeybees, the best course of action is unfortunately to kill them – or they will try to kill you.
A Sweeter Ending
The Bee Whisperer was blessed with a nest of European Honeybees this time, but it could have been much worse. Today, large regions of the American South are predominantly killer bee territory. And where they inhabit, European honeybees are less likely to do so.
But European honeybees, who are also a foreign species to the Americas, play a more crucial role in modern food production, pollinating up to 70 percent of crops worldwide. But, their populations are dying out – and our populations need them.
Over the past decade, populations have been decreasing so rapidly that the situation has been called the Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. But without them, farming that we take for granted is going to be compromised – including fruits, vegetable, and nuts.
This is what makes David’s message of bee preservation so important, and even the practice of beehive raising so beneficial. But more than anything, don’t kill off the good kind of bee – even if they want to move in with you without paying rent.