On Sunday evening, Erwin resident Jamie Brooks heard quite the buzz while walking around his home on Tyler Street – the buzz of several honey bees.
“I could hear them swarming,” Brooks said, thinking the bees were in his fireplace. “I knew (there were) several in there for me to hear them like that.”
Springing into action, Brooks said he tried everything from smoking them out of the fireplace by starting fire, to then spraying the bees Sunday night.
But remaining bees forced Brooks to publicize his situation, seeking help through Tradio – WEMB AM 1420.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I was told they were honey bees, so I figured …somebody somewhere could use these.”
Like many others, volunteer beekeeper Randy Ledford reached out to Brooks to help control the bees.
“He said he saw about 20 bees in his house, so we’re just trying to figure out what to do,” Ledford said.
Ashley Wagner, a worker in the honey bee research lab at East Tennessee State University, was later called to Brooks’ home around 1:30 p.m. Monday.
“I received a call that there were a large number of bees in the area,” Wagner said. They weren’t sure if there was a colony swarm occurring or if a colony had established themselves in the wall, in the attic, in the chimney.”
Wagner’s investigation showed the bees were actually in the roof’s overhang instead of in the chimney.
In order to remove the bees, “existing combs need to be accessed and cut out of the wall and then transferred to a box – commonly used by beekeepers for honey bees – and then moved to a different location,” Wagner said.
If the combs are not removed, two major problems can arise: If the remaining colony dies, the homeowner could face problems surrounding decaying bees and honey; if it survives, there would be a resurgence of the bee population and the homeowner could have the same problems happen again at the property.
Finding large beehives in homes is not uncommon, especially during this time of year.
Wagner said bees are reportedly moving more into places such as attics and house siding due to dead or fewer trees in the area.
“They (the bees) look for an open cavity that has sufficient protection, a small opening and is dry, safe … to set up their hive at,” Wagner said.
She noted that it is difficult to pinpoint how long a colony extraction would take, but said it would be ideal to remove the bees as soon as possible.
“The biggest safety issue from honey bees is just disturbing the hive entrance and the colony becoming defensive,” Wagner said. “Honey bees by nature are not aggressive, but if you pose a threat to them… they will become defensive.”
Anyone with bee concerns or questions, or are facing a current bee infestation, can call their local beekeeper association.
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