WESTFIELD, NJ — The hive tried to multiply, right in front of Wally Parker’s home.
When the Kimball Avenue resident found earlier this week that honey bees, which had been living in a tall tree migrated to an azalea bush in front of his home, he called a beekeeper to gather the swarm and transport them away.
“It’s just fascinating the way these bees migrate,” said Parker, 70. “Some of them came down and built these swarms just above an azalea bush on the ground.”
Daniel Senter, beekeeper with NJ Bees drove down from Teaneck, donned his protective bee suit and scooped up the swarm that was attempting to set up a new hive in Parker’s azalea bush.
“I would guesstimate there were probably about 10,000 bees,” Senter told TAPinto Westfield. “That’s a moderate size swarm. That’s not a huge swarm.”
Bees have been a longstanding presence at Parker’s home after they took up residence in a nearly 70-foot tall tree in front of his residence about four years ago. Parker, who is allergic to bees, then described the scene as like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
So, when he learned the bees had migrated down to the bush on Monday, he was eager to get them relocated.
“I heard some buzzing and realized that low and behold they were down there,” Parker said.
Senter moved in to scoop up the bees before they formed into another hive.
“The bees reproduce individually by the queen laying eggs,” he said. “But the hive reproduces as a mega-organism by dividing into two halves. The bees and the queen leave the hive and settle at a new location, and a new queen emerges and takes over.”
The process, Senter said, involves the endangered species sending out “scout bees,” which seek an appropriate space to set up. His goal is to get to the new space before the hive becomes fully formed.
“The process can take a couple of hours to a couple of days, and as long as we can get there before it happens, we can take them and put them into a new hive,” Senter said.
On Kimball Avenue, he said, he came in with a bucket and screen scooped up the bees and drove them home to Teaneck, where they were scheduled to spend the night before being transported to Senter’s apiary in Woodridge, New York.
The buckets of bees are sealed, he said, so Senter just puts them in his car. Sometimes a bee or two will escape the bucket.
“I’ve never got stung in the car, and I’ve had many loose bees in the car,” Senter said.
While a unique day for Parker, the trip to Westfield was business as usual for Senter, who said he gets a fair amount of calls to collect bees this time of year.
“This is the swarming season. I’ll get two or three calls a week to collect swarms on the average. I had a swarm yesterday and I took swarms today,” Senter said on Monday.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Senter said, he has stopped bee extractions from within homes, but other than that, the bee collections continue.
“I don’t want to be spending hours in someone else’s house,” he said.
Email Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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