Thousands of Bees Relocated From Their
Surf Shop Residence to a New Home
...WITH SLIDE SHOW
By JOY CRIST
an otherwise normal June day, Carol Busbey and her husband Scott
encountered an unexpected squatter in the shed behind their Natural Art
Surf Shop in Buxton – or rather, they discovered a few thousand of them.
first sign that something was amiss was the presence of quite a few
bees buzzing in and out of a little hole in the shed. “Once you got
closer, you could definitely hear the buzz of a ton of bees,” says Carol.
it turns out, their shed – which usually serves as Scott’s surfboard
shaping room – had been converted into a residence for roughly
9,000-10,000 honey bees that decided to make a home just below the
Scott and Carol called resident
Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitator Lou Browning to determine what
to do next, and in turn, he put them in contact with two certified
local beekeepers – Kenny Brite and Ken Randall.
in my second year [of beekeeping] and Ken Randall is on his fourth,”
says Kenny. “There’s a couple of other people on the island who work
with bees, but not too many… But we’re going to try to change that.”
and Ken went to the Buxton site to excavate the hive, and after
maneuvering past the underpinning at the bottom of the shed, they
started to remove the combs one by one with a knife. The combs were
then transferred to frames, and then stacked carefully in a box so they
could be reestablished in a new residence that was a bit more
And the entire process – which took a couple hours – drew quite the crowd to the surf shop.
they started taking the honeycombs and putting them in the bee box, it
took about two hours,” says Carol. “But it was really something to
watch. The honeycombs the bees make are so perfect, and you could see
the different stages of bee larvae inside the comb too - So there
wasn’t just the bees themselves, there were also the ‘bees to be.’”
employees at the shop called their friends and their kids to see the
endeavor, and Kenny estimated that there were about 12-15 people who
were watching the move the entire time.
though the bees weren’t planning on having a moving day, they were very
adaptable to the situation. Both Kenny and Ken got stung once, and
there were no other bee-related casualties.
took the combs off with his bare hands, and handed them to me,” says
Kenny. “They were gentle enough, and it was really easy.”
“These bees were nice girls… some girls aren’t so nice,” he adds.
a roughly 14” x 16” space under the shed, Kenny estimates that there
were at least 9,000 bees total excavated from the site, and that the
hive had been hanging out at the surf shop for roughly 3-4 months.
though it may seem initially odd that thousands of bees could be
hanging around with no one the wiser for months at a time, it’s
actually not as unusual as it sounds.
only need about 3/8” of space to get inside,” says Denise Deacon,
President of the Outer Banks Beekeeper’s Guild, which is a local
chapter of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. “They can
get into a dryer vent, a hole in the ceiling - things like that.”
they find a cavity, go back to the swarm and do their dance, and entice
others to come with them and check it out,” she says. “Once they decide
it’s a great spot, they go back and everyone follows them, and they
start building the comb.”
Now that the bees have
been removed from the surf shop shed, Kenny and Ken hope to move them
to the corner of a property in Buxton that has been generously donated
by the owner as a temporary bee haven.
“We can do
a nice-sized apiary there,” says Kenny. “I had two [hives] this year,
and Ken had three, but we would like to have at least 15-18 between the
both of us. In fact, it wouldn’t bother me to have 50 hives over the
next few years, as long as it works.”
Hives generally dwindle by 50% over the winter, so having a steadily growing population is key to keep the bees going.
And as many people know, there’s a lot of great benefits to having a bunch of bees around.
are so many uses [when it comes to bees],” says Kenny. “Honey, pollen,
wax, Propolis – which is used to treat minor wounds... There’s a lot of
benefit just from what comes out of the hive, which is not even
considering the pollination benefits for everybody.”
Denise of the Outer Banks Beekeepers Guild concurs that bees are instrumental for literally any area.
honeybees are responsible for pollinating a third of what we eat
daily,” says Denise. “In our area where there’s not much agriculture,
they are still helpful with backyard gardens. There are 175,000 species
of plants that need pollination - Honey bees, in addition to native
bees, are the ones that take care of that for us.”
And the benefits of having hives scattered across the island is that multiple areas can reap the benefits.
bees will travel anywhere from 3-5 miles from their hive,” says Denise.
“…And they are needed for the reproduction of 90% of the flowers on our
And if Kenny and Ken’s beekeeping efforts continue, there may be some added benefits on the local foodie scene as well.
year, we’re just trying to make bees... But we’re forming ‘Hatteras
Island Honey Works,’ and maybe next year, we’ll start having some honey
on the market,” says Kenny. “There are about 25 people right now
begging for honey, and we don’t have it yet, but we will do our best.”
Chances are, the next hives that Kenny and Ken acquire won’t be from an impromptu removal from a local structure.
as for the recent Buxton excavation, the scene itself was more than
enough to fascinate onlookers -and to help spread the word that bees
are pretty darn amazing.
“We try to educate
people on the Outer Banks about how important all of our pollinators
are,” says Denise. “The whole marvel of the colony and what they can do
is outstanding, and I’m so glad there were onlookers [at the
excavation] to see how amazing bees are.”
a really cool experience for everyone involved,” says Carol. “And it
was definitely the most exciting thing to happen here all
day, that’s for sure!”
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