Tuesday, August 12, 2003

That's some big buzz

Thousands of honeybees caught in sting operation

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Allen Zierker, from Deer Park, uses a vacuum to suck bees off of a honeycomb.
(Leigh Patton photo)
| ZOOM |
ANDERSON TWP. - Un-bee-lieveable. An Anderson Township home infested by an estimated 30,000 honeybees that may have been living there without any buzz for several years was de-bee'd Monday.

"We've had mice and ladybugs, but never bees until this summer," 33-year-old Tom Amrine said Monday evening as beekeepers extracted the last of the bees from the his Dunwoodie Drive home.

The bees had taken up residence in floor joists between the dining room ceiling and master bedroom floor.

Andrew Kartal, a bee inspector for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Allan Dierker, a painting contractor and beekeeping hobbyist, used a vacuum device to suck the bees out of the house. It was an all-day job.

"The 30,000-plus range," Dierker said of the estimated number of bees removed from the house.

The two also removed beehives containing about 20 pounds of honey.

The home invaders are Americanized honeybees, Kartal said. They are a protected species, and exterminators are not allowed to kill them, he said.

"They're harmless,'' Dierker said.

The Amrines, who have two daughters, ages 4 and 16 months, first noticed the bees in their house at the end of May.

"A couple came from our bedroom (air-conditioning) vent," Kim Amrine said.

They sealed the vent with duct tape and forgot about them until her husband noticed bees outside the house several weeks later.

They called an exterminator but were soon informed they needed a beekeeper, she said.

The exterminator put his ear to bedroom floor to see if he could hear the bees, she said.

"He listened and said, 'Holy cow.'"

When she and her husband listened, they could hear some buzzing, but they had no idea how many unwanted visitors they had.

"It was just buzzing," she said. "You could tell there were a few dozen bees."

Dierker said the bees were able to get into the house because the painting contractor had failed to put caulking along the fascia boards - molding covering the joints between the top of a wall and the projecting eaves.


E-mail bweathers@enquirer.com

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