Thursday, August 15, 2002

Giant hive an un-bee-lievable find

40,000 insects in honeycomb near Fort Thomas jogging trail relocated

By The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An enormous beehive lying 5 feet from a jogging trail in Fort Thomas was painstakingly relocated Wednesday by an expert who could hardly believe his eyes.

[photo] Granville Griffith vacuums bees from the hive before removing it.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        “It's amazing these bees had been there so long. It appeared they wanted to get along with people,” said Granville Griffith, a beekeeper from Southgate.

        About 40,000 bees were living in the hive, which spilled from a catalpa tree within Tower Park along South Fort Thomas Avenue. Their honeycomb — drenched in honey and covered with bees — looked like fungus growing on the tree, said Fort Thomas Parks and Recreation Director Don Brindle.

        “I've never seen anything like it, and I've been with the city for 30 years,” Mr. Brindle said.

        Although the hive was at least a year old, no one complained about stings or apparently even noticed the bees until last week.

        That's when a Fort Thomas jogger phoned Mr. Griffith, a well-known bee preservationist, to say that a bee had crossed his path. The jogger was not stung but has a bee allergy and was concerned, Mr. Griffith said.

[photo] Mr. Griffith cuts the hive from the tree.
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        He found the hive and was stunned to see its size and proximity to the trail. Mr. Brindle agreed that it should be moved.

        “That's one of our bike trails in the park. There's hundreds of people who use it,” Mr. Brindle said.

        On Wednesday, Mr. Griffith used smoke to trick the bees into thinking their hive was in danger. The smoke causes them to gorge themselves on honey in preparation for an anticipated journey, he says.

        The eating puts them in a sedated state, which makes the move easier, Mr. Griffith says.

        He sucked the bees into a wire cage using a modified vacuum cleaner. Eggs, larvae and the honeycomb also were removed. Mr. Griffith deposited the colony in a manmade hive at a nursery in Campbell County.


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