Honey, please bee serious

Approximately 25K-30K honeybees extracted from Fabius Township outbuilding

FABIUS TOWNSHIP — Beekeepers Marshall Beachler and Charlotte Hubbard, with assistance from two Chicago-based beekeepers and Fabius Township Trustee Cliff Maxwell, extracted 25,000 to 30,000 honeybees from the outbuilding of Fabius Township Hall, and rehomed them at Corey Lake Orchards in Three Rivers, over the course of two days beginning on Friday, May 12.
“We were made aware of the honeybees in the outbuilding of the Fabius Township Hall last fall,” Hubbard said. “Rehoming them then would’ve likely been fatal; the weather would likely not have allowed them to rebuild what they needed for winter in a new location.
“Township personnel agreed with our plan to attempt a rehoming if they made it through the winter. With about 40 percent overwintering loss of bee colonies in Southwest Michigan, there was a good chance they wouldn’t make it.”
Beachler and Hubbard, who are married, have been doing “extractions” or “cut-outs” for “about four years now,” helping people in what Hubbard calls untenable situations — “people with fatal allergies to stinging insects, small children or animals playing nearby, and sometimes, even honey leaking into their homes.”
Hubbard said the honeybees they extracted on Friday had likely been in the outbuilding for three-to-four years.
“Based on what was discovered within the walls, the beekeepers suspect bees had lived there for three-to-four years, although likely not the same colony,” she said. “There was both the current nest, and an older, now unoccupied nest.”
Hubbard said last weekend’s extraction was the cleanest removal she and Beachler have ever done.
“There was very little honey as it is still early in spring build-up, and the bees were stunningly gentle. Based on the amount of developing brood, the population was within a few weeks of growing sizably toward its summer peak of about 50,000.”
Hubbard said she and her husband have removed honeybees from a dormitory, an apartment complex, porches, garages and several older homes, a service they provide for free.
“Simply killing honeybees in a structure doesn’t eliminate the problem,” Hubbard said. “There’s usually a massive build-up of honey and wax in their nest. Once the bees are killed off and unable to defend the nest, what’s left behind will attract rodents and other insects.
“And unless the cavity is cleaned out and sealed off, it will be attractive to future swarms looking for a home. Plus, the world needs honey bees.”
Hubbard and Beachler manage two to three dozen colonies, and mentor other beekeepers on sustainable beekeeping. Hubbard speaks and trains nationally on honeybees, and has written two books about bees, including an informative children’s book.
Some of the couple’s colonies are located at Corey Lake Orchards, where the bees from Friday’s extraction were transported. Hubbard said Corey Lake’s operation is largely dependent “on pollinators for most of the fruits and vegetables they raise,” so “they were happy to give (the bees) a new home.”

Please see Wednesday's Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.

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