It was a hive of activity on Fuller Avenue in downtown Kelowna this week.
Residents from around the neighbourhood were drawn to Matt Tyefisher’s home as a natural phenomenon drew curiosity.
“It started on Monday. I looked outside and there seemed to be a bunch of wasps buzzing around the front gate,” said Tyefisher.
He had recently moved into the home and hadn’t noticed any issues before these apparent wasps showed up on May 23.
“By Tuesday, there was a huge swarm. It was like a black cloud took over the front yard,” he said.
Thinking the insects were wasps, Tyefisher called Bug Master to help with the problem. However, when Bug Master arrived at the house, they quickly realized it wasn’t yellow jackets there were dealing with but instead fuzzy honey bees.
Realizing the important role of the pollinators, Bug Master decided to call in the expert.
Vic McDonald of Bees Incorporated and president of the Capital Beekeepers Association, was no stranger to the situation at Fuller Avenue, having been called to this same home four years previous.
“Bug Master always calls me when they have a situation with bees. And this time, these bees on Fuller Avenue had been there for the whole of winter,” he explained.
The bees lay dormant as the colder months set in but as spring started up so did the pollen and nectar, which put the queen bee into “full-laying” mode.
McDonald said that when the queen goes into “full-laying” mode that means producing up to 3,000 eggs a day. And, about 21 days later, those eggs hatch at a rate of 2,000 a day.
“The bees then must orient themselves, which means coming out of the nest or hive and as a result fly around to get their bearings, like a GPS. Once they get situated then they go back in,” said McDonald.
This was the situation that unfolded at Tyefisher’s home when he witnessed what would be thousands of bees leaving the hive causing quite the commotion in the neighbourhood.
“This was an established swarm and Wednesday night we went in and moved the total swarm. Everything has now been closed up again,” said McDonald.
While this swarm was not unusual to McDonald, it was certainly a new experience for Tyefisher. However, McDonald says swarms are happening less as beekeepers are becoming more experienced.
“Backyard beekeepers are monitoring their hives more actively and they know what to look for. So, they now split the hive. This means when the hive becomes overpopulated they split the hive, take out the old queen, put in a new queen and therefore there is no swarm as a result,” stated McDonald.
McDonald explained now that the bees have been removed the issue should be resolved for Tyefisher. Once the bees were taken out, the area was neutralized so the insects won’t like the smell of the area.
The bees that were removed will quarantine for three weeks at which time McDonald and his team of beekeepers will check back for disease. If there is disease the bees will be destroyed, however, if there is no issue only the queen will be destroyed and a new queen will be brought in.
“We will then give these bees to backyard beekeepers or junior beekeepers,” explained McDonald.
McDonald believes this feral swarm originated from beekeepers in the area who did not properly care for their hives.
If your neighbourhood comes alive with the sound of buzzing, McDonald says his team is prepared to assist and he can be contacted at beesincorporated.com.