Don’t run from the bees

Patti Saam (left), of Fremont, and Brenda Stultz, of Tiffin, use a cell phone flashlight to look for the queen bee in a honey bee display after a program about beekeeping Tuesday evening at Clyde Museum.

Beekeeper Linda Miller says people shouldn’t be afraid of a swarm of bees, but they should call a beekeeper to handle them.

Miller, who has been keeping bees for about six years and has 30 hives, said it takes a bit of know-how to move bees to a safe place. She spoke Tuesday evening at a program at Clyde Museum.

“This is something people panic over,” she said. “But we’ll be happy to get them. They’re free bees for us.”

Anyone who finds a swarm of bees should remain calm, she said, and don’t spray them.

“If they’re in your wall, don’t kill them,” she said. “Your house will stink for six months.”

She said swarming bees are not interested in stinging people.

“If you are caught in a swarm vortex, just stand still and remain calm,” she said.

To find a beekeeper, she said people can call a local law enforcement office.

Miller said she had four unexpected swarms from her hives Tuesday afternoon.

Instead of the relaxing afternoon she had planned, she said she went out to check her bees and found a surprise.

“There were four swarms going today,” she said. “The hives were too full, and this was the first nice day in a while.

“I actually went through with my bare hands and scooped bees,” she said. “I got them saved, and I didn’t get stung at all.”

When they’re swarming, she said bees are intent on three things – protecting the queen, finding a new home and carrying as much food with them as they can.

Miller, a member of Sandusky River Valley Beekeepers Association, said members take time to visit with the public at five fairs, including Seneca County, and attend other community events to provide information.

“I think you would have to live in a cave if you didn’t know anything about how pollinators are in danger,” she said.

They provide information just only on bees, but on a wide range of pollinators, including all species of bees as well as butterflies, bats and others

“It’s our intent not just to protect honeybees,” she said. “We try to protect all pollinators.”

Miller said there about 2.6 million bee hives in the United States, and that number has remained steady over the last five years.

“We really do try to do what we can for them,” she said.

Instead of everyone having a backyard garden as in the past, she said there is a lot more monoculture to farming practices.

“There just isn’t the variety there used to be,” she said. “The bees have no variation in their food source. They need a variety of pollen just like we need a variety of foods.”

She said farmers are starting to plant pollinator strips along fields and streams.

When people are trying to control pests in the gardens, Miller suggested spraying close to sunset when bees have returned to their hives for the night, and she suggested spraying before or after plants bloom but not while they’re in bloom.

She said using granules is best whenever possible, and avoid powders.

“The powders are a nightmare,” she said. “Bees store (pesticide) powder with their pollen, causing many deaths.

Miller explained the life cycles of bees and the parts of hives.

“A colony of bees is a superorganism,” she said. “None of them can survive without the others.”

To find out more, Miller invited anyone interested to attend an SRVBA meeting at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month at the First United Methodist Church, 510 W. Maple St., Clyde.

For more information about beekeeping or find someone to remove a swarm, visit Miller’s website at oneoldbroadwithhives.com or the organization’s website at srvba.ohiostatebeekeepers.org.