80,000 Honey Bees Found in Wall of Shower (Also, 100 Pounds of Honey)

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“They were bully bees,” a St. Petersburg, Fla., homeowner said, but a bath renovation meant they had to go. A beekeeper safely removed them.

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A nonrecreational beekeeper took astir 5 hours to region the bees and the hive from the home.CreditCredit...Elisha Bixler

Neil Vigdor

Dec. 15, 2021Updated 7:30 p.m. ET

A Florida mates precocious bade farewell to immoderate uninvited location guests: a colony of arsenic galore arsenic 80,000 chromatic bees that had invaded their ablution wall.

The colony’s size astounded adjacent Elisha Bixler, the nonrecreational beekeeper whom the couple, Stefanie and Dan Graham of St. Petersburg, Fla., had enlisted to get them retired of the sticky situation.

“There was chromatic everywhere: walls, floor, connected my shoes, doorknobs,” Ms. Bixler recounted successful an interrogation connected Wednesday. “I had to propulsion the partition down to the studs to get each of the comb out.”

She estimated determination were astir 80,000 bees and 100 pounds of chromatic erstwhile she removed the seven-foot-tall hive successful aboriginal November aft prying distant the bath tiles. The find was reported earlier by the Tampa Bay tv presumption FOX 13.

Ms. Bixler, 38, the proprietor of How’s Your Day Honey, said she had to enactment down integrative coverings to effort to incorporate the mess.

Knowing thing was amiss, the Grahams contacted Ms. Bixler successful October. It was not the family’s archetypal bee occurrence astatine their three-story wood-frame formation house, which sits connected stilts.

Two to 3 years ago, Ms. Graham said connected Wednesday, her hubby ripped unfastened the partition successful the aforesaid bath and removed a elephantine hive. Since then, they had enactment done connected their roof, which Ms. Graham said near immoderate holes — an entranceway for the bees to return.

The couple, their 2 children and 2 Great Danes had learned to coexist with their houseguests, contempt occasional bee stings.

“We some truly emotion quality and we emotion bees,” Ms. Graham said. “We’re like, ‘We’ll permission you alone. You permission america alone.’ They were bully bees. So we were like, ‘Sure, spell ahead, unrecorded successful our shower.’”

But the cohabitation had to extremity erstwhile the household decided to renovate the bathroom, said Ms. Graham, 41, a precocious schoolhouse English teacher who works portion clip successful existent estate.

Ms. Bixler said she was much accustomed to removing hives from roofs, sheds oregon trees.

“This is my archetypal ablution removal,” Ms. Bixler said connected Wednesday.

When Ms. Bixler arrived astatine the family’s location connected Nov. 2, she said, she pulled retired her trusty thermal detector weapon that measures vigor and pointed it astatine the ablution wall. It showed that the somesthesia was astir 96 degrees, which she said was emblematic for a hive.

“As soon arsenic I saw wherever they were, I started breaking distant the tile and unveiling this monolithic seven-foot hive,” she said. “Most of it was honey.”

Ms. Bixler warned the Grahams that they mightiness privation to marque themselves scarce portion she removed the bees, a process that she said took much than 5 hours astatine a outgo of $800 that was not covered by insurance.

“She did travel into the bath astir halfway done and instrumentality a peek,” Ms. Bixler said of Ms. Graham.

Ms. Graham said her household wasn’t afraid. “I cognize a batch of radical would beryllium freaked out,” she said.

At first, Ms. Bixler, who has been a nonrecreational beekeeper for 3 years, said she wore conscionable a veil to support herself from the bees. But aft respective stung her, she donned other protective cogwheel that included gloves and boots.

Sifting done the bees, she yet discovered the queen bee, whose abdomen was doubly the size of regular bees’. She enactment the queen successful a protective cage and placed it wrong a container with the different bees.

“That makes each the bees spell into the container with her,” Ms. Bixler said. “She wants to beryllium backmost successful her wall. She thinks that’s her home.”

She utilized a peculiar vacuum to region immoderate of the stragglers from the hive.

Robert Page Jr., a prof emeritus of entomology astatine the University of California astatine Davis, said connected Wednesday that the odors from the erstwhile bee colony astir apt would person attracted caller bees to the ablution wall.

Waiting to telephone idiosyncratic to region bees from a colony has large drawbacks, said Professor Page, writer of “The Art of the Bee: Shaping the Environment from Landscapes to Societies.” He said that bees tin harm drywall and that the chromatic tin ferment, causing odors that tin pull ants.

“We emotion chromatic bees, but not erstwhile they’re successful your wall,” said the professor, who has besides taught astatine Arizona State University.

Ms. Bixler saved a batch of the honey, which she said she fed to the bees that she has rescued and keeps astatine her tiny municipality workplace successful St. Petersburg. The Grahams held connected to immoderate of the chromatic for themselves.

“I told them they had an enactment of conscionable biting into that comb, oregon you tin enactment it into a colander and conscionable compression retired the honey,” Ms. Bixler said.

Ms. Bixler said that she nurses the bees that she rescues backmost to wellness and relocates them to apiaries.

Ms. Graham said that she had work galore humanities accounts astir radical speaking to bees astir milestones successful their lives, a ritual known arsenic telling the bees. She, too, had go a bee whisperer, she said, including erstwhile her houseguests departed.

“I did archer the bees goodbye,” she said, “and that they were getting a caller house.”

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