CINCINNATI — From its lush gardens to its historic charm, the Pinecroft Manor at Crosley Estate is beloved by brides looking for the perfect backdrop for their wedding. But property owners are looking for a divorce from uninvited guests.
It’s springtime and, without notice, a black cloud takes over the skies. Made up of tens of thousands of black dots flying in seemingly every direction at once, the cloud settles into a nearby tree branch.
“You’ll hear it before you see it and then there’s a tornado of bees around. That’s how they reproduce, and good luck talking an animal out of reproducing, right?” beekeeper Phil Hucky said.
The bees are searching for their new home and a new place to create a new hive.
Standing inside the attic of Pinecroft Manor, which is in Mount Airy, Hucky is faced with cutting out a nearly 100-year-old floor to retrieve a beehive that has built up between the joists.
“This is really the only way to get into a hive like this there’s no access from the outside from underneath anything like that,” Hucky said. “Honeybees are cavity dwellers so they’re looking for a space roughly this big which is perfect between the first and second floor houses the joist space is that size and so they’re looking for those spaces to move into.”
Swarms on trees in a yard or ones that show up on the side of a home or car can often be captured for free by an area beekeeper from the Southwest Ohio Beekeepers Association or SWOBA. Hucky says the association’s website has the resources homeowners need.
“There’s a very large list of people broken up by region local beekeepers that will come and assist you and take that hive off your hands, typically free of charge,” he said.
However, once the bees have found a quarter-inch hole or larger on the side of a home and move into the eaves or walls it can become pricey. There’s no set price within the industry and cutout services can range from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Hucky said homeowners want to make sure they hire someone that understands the construction and has the proper tools for the job.
While someone’s first response to a honeybee swarm might be to grab the insect spray and kill the bees, Hucky said please don’t do it for a variety of reasons.
“If the spray was to kill the hive you still have all that brood and all that honey and it will be like having a large dead animal in the wall,” Hucky said. “If that hives been poisoned, you’re not only poisoning that hive you could potentially poison other hives in the area.”
He said other honeybees will pick up the scent left behind by the propolis in the hive and could visit the poisoned hive and then carry the pesticide to other hives in the area several miles away. The good news is while honeybees can swarm at any time, they predominately swarm between April and June, which means we’re about midway through this year’s swarm season.
If you find the need for a beekeeper to take care of a swarm in your area, visit the SWOBA website and click the ‘Swarm Removal’ link at the top of the page.
SWOBA’s President Yaser Almusawy encourages property owners to plant bee-friendly flowers. A list can be found on their website.