What Milan homeowners Tony and Teresa Veldhaus discovered in
their chimney this fall will benefit farmers and gardeners in
the spring. Veldhaus discovered a colony of about 12,000 honeybees
after seeing a few dead bees at the base of the chimney, the
second colony to build a hive there in three years.
Knowing that honeybees are scarce, Veldhaus contacted local
beekeeper Jim Orem to remove and relocate the colony. Homeowners
like the Veldhaus who would take the time to relocate
a colony are few, said Orem.
Orem, who has been a beekeeper for about ten years, typically
prefers to leave the colony intact where it is located. But,
the homeowners use the chimney in the winter and the hive blocked
the flue, creating a dangerous situation for both homeowners
Orem and fellow beekeepers Garry Reeves and Jim Farmer removed
the colony by vacuuming as many bees as possible into a special
box for transport. The hive was then cut out and lifted by a
board that was then transferred into frames designed to hold
The comb revealed several eggs and larvae, a good indication
of a viable hive according to Orem. We will do the best
we can to ensure the bees make it through the winter,
Homeowners can help increase the honeybee population by providing
forage. Plants such as wild blackberries, dandelions and clover
all provide nectar for the bees. Those plants used to attract
butterflies also attract bees, according to Orem. Homeowners
can also limit spraying pesticides and allow some weeds to grow.
Honeybees live only for a few weeks, but the queen bee can live
several years. According to Orem, the queen looks similar to
The Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association is a loosely
organized group of local beekeepers interested in sharing the
common desire to raise healthy honeybees. Anyone with an interest
in beekeeping can join, according to Orem.
For more information on SIBA or bees, visit the SIBA website
at www .siba.innersync.com or contact Jim Orem at 812-623-2062
ABOVE: The hive was removed by lowering a board into the
chimney and removing the hive a small amount at a time.
The bees were vacuumed into a special ly made box to be
transported to the new location of the hive. PICTURED
BELOW: Homeowner Tony Veldhaus and Garry Farmer examine
the comb for honeybee eggs and larvae. The comb is a portion
of a hive discovered by Veldhaus in the chimney.