The accidental beekeeper
Fayetteville woman learns about honeybees after beekeper finds over 60,000 in walk-in closet
Judy Ward, an ad sales representative for The Citizen and a Fayetteville resident, and her husband, Ron, noticed something strange occurring on the side of their house.
“There were bees flying in and out of this one corner, between a layer of bricks” Ward said. “It looked like a flight school.” The couple noticed this was happening on the part of the house that was getting the most sun. They called a beekeeper, Jerry Edwards, a member of the Coweta Beekeepers Association, to come out and take a look. Edwards confirmed they were dealing with honeybees and was trying to access the area where the bees were going from the outside. A colleague of Edwards, Bobby Torbush, also from the Coweta Beekeepers Association, took over after Edwards was called out of town and suggested they go at it from the inside.
Torbush with the aid of a stethoscope heard buzzing sounds which led him to a walk -in closet in the upstairs bedroom. He decided to peel back the carpet and padding to cut a hole in the floor and see what they were dealing with.
Torbush found what he was looking for and then some. There were close to 60,000 honeybees in the floor and Torbush spent over nine hours harvesting the bees to take them to his home and filling up 14 frames and five gallon buckets with honeycombs and bees.
“He found the queen and isolated her,” Ward said. “That was important to us because the bees will continue trying to protect her at their new home.” She stressed that they didn’t want to hurt any of the bees. “They are not aggressive. They aren’t out to sting anybody because once they sting someone their abdomen falls off and they die.”
Ward described the effort that Torbush had to put in to extracting the bees safely.
“He wore a beekeeping suit, with a hat and gloves to protect him and the vacuum never stopped. They flocked to the light and when we opened the window, they flew outside to return to their entrance. They just kept looping around.”
Torbush also sprayed a pheromone that would keep the bees from returning and the hole where they had entered has been secured.
It was a learning experience for Ward. She and Ron got to try eating a slice of the honeycomb, which was just as sweet as she thought it would be. She also learned that if the honeycomb hadn’t been found the honey could have oozed and done damage to the house and attracted even more bees.
Ward expressed interest in keeping bees at her home but county ordinances do not currently allow beekeeping.
“I would love to do it though because if you eat the honey harvested around your home, you can avoid having a lot of allergy problems,” Ward said.
She has checked up on the bees that had made their home at her home and they are doing well. As scary as it is to imagine removing a piece of floor and finding 60,000 bees buzzing away beneath your feet, Ward instead found the experience fascinating. The honey bee is Georgia’s State insect and is protected by Georgia law.