Honeybees cause quite a buzz

Beth Rumsey

Staff Writer

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 and bees.

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.

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,” he said.

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 a wasp.

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 or jorem@nalu.net.

PICTURED 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.