Relocation all the buzz downtown

A swarm of bees hang from a bush on the corner of Main and Jefferson streets near the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.  Experts say now is the time when bees relocate and more are being found in populated areas.

Swarms of bees continue to buzz in and around New Iberia’s city streets, most recently forming a swarm on a bush near the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

Bee removal hobbyist A.J. Baham of Franklin said because of the mating season this is the prime time to find roving bees. Baham said starting in March queen bees can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day, which become fully grown workers in 21 days.

He said he gets two types of removal calls: swarms and settled hives. Swarms happen when the colony becomes too large and bees start looking for a new permanent resting spot, he said. While the scout bees are out looking for a location, others will flock to wherever the queen lands and form a literal ball of bodies around her.

Once the colony settles, Baham said the bees are much more difficult to remove. Often times they settle between the walls of buildings or in other cool, dark spaces.

Simply killing the bees, though easier, is a detriment to the dwindling wild population and can leave behind sticky, melting insect attractants in the forms of leftover honey and wax. He said it’s important that all traces of the population are removed from walls.

Baham said he takes the bees he removes to his personal hives. He said he wears a full bee suit, complete with helmet and veil, and has made a homemade vacuum system to safely extract the insects. To more safely extract them, he said he flushes the swarming bees with cool smoke to calm them down and numb their attack pheromones. He said pine smoke works best, but any kind will suffice.

However, he said the bee suit isn’t impenetrable. He recounted one house he visited where a woman’s exterior wall panels were literally busting from the seams with bees. They weren’t the docile bees he was used to and they aggressively stung him through the suit, so much so that he wasn’t able to remove them. When another beekeeper did extract the bees from the wall, he said the colony filled four 48-quart coolers.

Former beekeeper David Prince said late last month that more bees are moving to concrete city areas to avoid pesticide spraying in surrounding rural fields.

Ricky Cavagmaro of Delcambre’s Termite and Pest Control said his job is to eradicate, not remove bees, but that he uses different techniques depending on the situation. He said bees have shown up unusually early this year, possibly due to a mild winter, and that he’s been getting two or three calls per day about the insects. When he doesn’t kill the bees, he said he uses a mint and rosemary spray mixture to deter them away from a site, but added that the fragrant solution only works about half of the time.

For more about bees and listings for local beekeepers visit lsuagcenter.com.

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