Man does his part to keep the struggling honeybee safe
Posted: Aug 26, 2009 08:47 PM
It's moving day for as many as 50,000 honeybees in Colonie (08/26/09)
By NEWS10's Mark O'Brien
COLONIE -- Dan Kerwood doesn't mind bee stings on his legs, hands, or arms. Just don't go much above that.
"The only time I have a problem is if I take a sting above the neck," he says.
For the last five years, Kerwood has made a living partly by removing bee hives from where they are not wanted. His latest project is the salt shed at the Town of Colonie DPW on Wednesday.
"That's the tip of the iceberg," Kerwood says, as he peels back the wooden wall to take a look at the hive inside.
Kerwood estimates as many as 50,000 honeybees live in the hive, nestled between the studs of the salt shed. The hive is tall enough that Kerwood needs a ladder to expose all of the honeycomb underneath.
"It's a lot bigger (than what I expected)," he admits.
To remove the bees, Kerwood uses a special vacuum. Its pressure is strong enough to pull bees off the honeycomb, but weak enough that it won't crush the insects as they are collected. Kerwood estimates he can save 90 percent of the bees that way, which he says is critical to preventing a growing bee problem from getting worse.
For several decades, the honeybee population has struggled with staying off the endangered species list. More recently, a third of the US honeybee population has died since 2007. Researchers have varying opinions as to the cause, but most of the recent attention has focused on Colony Collapse Disorder. Kerwood says it could also have something to do with more farmers harvesting fewer varieties of crops nowadays.
"We could be in trouble if we don't figure it out soon," Kerwood says.
Experts say honeybees are important to human survival because roughly a third of the world's food supply depends on honey bees. In the United States, honey bees are responsible for $15 billion in agricultural crops every year.
"I think it was Albert Einstein who said if the bees died off, we'd last about two more years, and then we'd be gone," Kerwood says.
Therefore, Kerwood tries to safeguard the bees' future. When he removes unwanted hives, he hangs portions of them --especially ones that contain honey bee larvae-- in special wooden boxes similar to file folders hanging in a filing cabinet. He says if all goes well, the bees will fill in the empty spaces and continue raising the larvae inside.
The specialized removal is costing the Town of Colonie $600, which was approved by the Town Board earlier this month.
For more information on honeybees, beekeeping scholarships for students, or bee removal, visit the Southern Adirondack Beekeepers Association online at
What to Do If You're Attacked by Bees
Updated: Monday, 24 Aug 2009, 7:04 PM MDT
Published : Monday, 24 Aug 2009, 5:53 PM MDT
Bee attacks, some of them severe, have been happening all over the valley lately. But if you run into a swarm of bees, do you know what your best defense is?
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The best defense is a fairly simple one -- run. Bees probably will not chase someone far from their hive.
David Charlesworth from ASAP Bee Removal says, "My best advice is just to get out of the area. If you're able-bodied, you need to run as quick as you can get out of the hive area."
A fire extinguisher is a bad idea, Charlesworth says. "I don't know of anybody that's ever treated a hive successfully with a fire extinguisher. It just doesnt work... what you're doing is provoking the bees."
It might seem like a good idea to jump in the pool, but that's not going to do a whole lot of good. "If you're still in the area of that live hive thats been disturbed, they will wait until you come up for air," says Charlesworth.
But the best way to combat a bee attack? Deal with the problem before it becomes a problem. Check your house and yard for a possible hive, and get it removed right away.
Bees normally don't come out if temperatures are over 100 degrees. As temps cool, more bee sightings are likely.