Flights of the honey bee

What’s the buzz in Clinton Township?

Members of Sandusky River Valley Beekeeping Association, a group that serves Seneca, Erie, Huron and Sandusky counties, gathered at a property on TR 15 Friday evening to rescue honey bees in an effort to relocate them.

The bees from the hive, which had been in a former milk storage barn for about two years, are to be distributed among association members.

Robbin Ewald, a member of the association, said the bees had been swarming, which tends to happen when bees are unhappy or crowded.

“They’re looking for a better place to live. … Often, a swarm will just attach itself to a tree,” she said.

Friday’s beekeeping crew, made up of Ewald; Rich Brutsche, the association’s president; John Schick, the group’s vice president; and Paul Dundore, a member, had to assess the situation and felt for heat in the wall. Then, the crew cut part of the wooden wall of the building in order to get to the hive.

The beekeepers removed combs and swept bees into a cage to be deposited in a new location.

“Sometimes the comb is salvageable,” Ewald said.

Schick said a lot of times, the queen bee is not found until the end. She could have been in the the group that was being vacuumed into the cage, he said.

“My guess is not,” he said.

The crew estimated the hive near Tiffin had more than 10,000 bees. Schick said in the middle of summer, established hives can have 60,000-70,000 bees.

Ewald, who said colony collapse disorder is happening, attempted a rescue last week. The man knew about the honey bee plight and wanted her to try to save them before he called an exterminator.

“It was not successful for me. … It didn’t work out,” she said.

Members of Sandusky River Valley Beekeeping Association can remove honey bee swarms from locations if conditions are right, according to its brochure.

Brutsche said he thinks the association has close to 45 members. It meets at Clyde’s First United Methodist Church and offers beekeeping classes.

“Last year was our largest class,” he said.

Ewald, who thought she was in her third year of membership, has four hives.

“It’s not a male-dominated business anymore,” Brutsche said.