Bee Professionals Help Canadian In Sticky Situation

A homeowner in Varney, Ontario, recently discovered 80,000 bees nesting in her house. She realized she had a problem when honey started dripping from the ceiling, and called Saugeen Country Honey for help. Guest host Susan Stamberg speaks with the company's co-owner, beekeeper Dave Schuit about the job.

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SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

A homeowner in the town of Varney, Ontario found herself in what you might call a sticky situation not long ago when she discovered honey dripping from her kitchen ceiling. Turns out, there were some 80,000 bees nesting between floors. Loretta Yates called a pest control company to help her out. They told her they couldn't really take care of it, so they called in an expert. Dave Schuit is the beekeeper and co-owner of Saugeen Country Honey. He's on the line with us. Now, Mr. Schuit, tell us about this distress call that you got.

DAVE SCHUIT: Well, I was called in to take a look. And I says, yeah, that definitely honey coming out of your ceilings. Her light shade was full of honey and her light bulb blew in the ceiling.

STAMBERG: The ceiling was buckling, wasn't it, because it all weighed so much?

SCHUIT: Yeah, exactly.

STAMBERG: Now, that's so many bees. How long did you feel they had been living up there?

SCHUIT: We believe the bees have been living in there for the last four years.

STAMBERG: Four years? But it took her a long time for her to notice them. You'd think there'd be a lot of buzzing, humming, something.

SCHUIT: Well, she was saying she often has a radio on most of the time, so she wasn't hearing them.

STAMBERG: Blaming my medium, are you? OK.

SCHUIT: There you are.

STAMBERG: So, how did you get rid of the hive?

SCHUIT: Well, basically, we started opening up the ceiling. We started smoking them a bit gently. And then we went in there and scooped them up with our hands, put them in pails. We had a hive box. We put the bees in there. And we found the queen amongst the group. We captured the queen and put her inside the hive so the bees would stay in the hive.

STAMBERG: You did this with your hands? Not your bare hands one hopes.

SCHUIT: We actually did, just gently moving them, yeah.

STAMBERG: Good heavens, you're a brave man. Any stings? Or, no, you're just too experienced?

SCHUIT: I did get stung myself but my one helper did a bit. But, yeah, it's part of our job.

STAMBERG: Yeah. So, it takes the queen to lay the eggs. So, you were especially careful with her. Is she happy and safe in her new home? 'Cause, after all, there is a shortage of honey bees worldwide and she could really help someplace else, right?

SCHUIT: Exactly. We managed to keep the queen and we have another hive now.

STAMBERG: What happened to all the honey and also the honeycomb?

SCHUIT: Well, the honeycomb we took all out. We got about 400 pounds of honey.

STAMBERG: And you're going to sell it or put it out, or?

SCHUIT: Well, the thing is the neighbors were trying to spray some chemicals to put the bees down. I said, well, thank you for telling me. I won't be using the honey for human consumption because I'm just afraid of any residue. So, that was kind of out of the picture, sadly say.

STAMBERG: Oh, it's too bad, 'cause that could have been a lot of very delicious Canadian honey.

SCHUIT: For sure. Very sweet.

STAMBERG: Dave Schuit is a beekeeper and co-owner of Saugeen Country Honey in Elmwood, Ontario. Thank you so much.

SCHUIT: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STAMBERG: This is NPR News.

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