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Residents buzzing after bees are removed

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Union Street in Hamilton was abuzz yesterday as thousands of bees were removed from their hive.

Steven DeSilva of the Corporation of Hamilton said the hive had been in a tree in Middle Town, North Hamilton, for more than a decade, but residents in the area said the hive had been a nuisance for around 20 years.

Mr DeSilva said: “It has become more and more of an issue for those who live in the area.

“We have people who are afraid of being stung by the bees and we have had repeated calls.”

Mr DeSilva added that the city did not want to kill the bees and maintenance and beekeeping company Passion Fields had approached City Hall with a relocation plan.

Spencer Field of Passion Fields spent three hours scooping up the bees with a vacuum device yesterday before placing them in a fresh hive so they could be relocated to a quieter area.

Mr Field drilled holes into the hive and pumped smoke inside to dull the bees' senses and hinder their ability to communicate.

He cut bigger holes in the hive with a chainsaw before he vacuumed them out.

Mr Field said: “The vacuum is just strong enough to lift the hairs on your arm, so it's not going to hurt the bees.”

He added he has been stung a lot in the past but that he is now mostly immune.

He said: “I have been stung 30-40 times in an hour. It's still painful.

“Most people in Bermuda get stung because they are riding on their bikes and a bee gets stuck in their helmet or their clothing.

“Most of the bees you see around are foragers. Foragers are not aggressive. They are just out getting food for their colony.

“It's when they have a colony to protect that they get more defensive.”

Mr Field added that he was stung around 20 times as he removed the Union Street hive.

By yesterday afternoon the 10,000-12,000 bees were on their way to a new home in Paget.

Mr Field said: “It was a pretty good-sized hive for this time of the year.”

“Feral hives are usually smaller due to the capacity of the physical space, but they filled up that space pretty well.”

He said some pieces of honeycomb inside the tree were at least three or four years old, which showed the age of the hive.

One resident predicted that the bees would return but Mr Field said the space would be filled by concrete to deter other colonies from moving in.

Mr Field added the island's bee population remained fragile after a series of die-offs.

He said: “Bee die-offs are still happening. Over the pastdecade we have lost 75 per cent of our bee population.

“I'm told we once had about 1,000 hives on the island. Now there's maybe fewer than 300. That's a large portion of the population gone.”

Mr Field called on the public to learn more about bees and their environmental role.

He explained bees were a food source for many species and that a variety of plant life, including half of the island's crops, relied on bees for pollination.

Mr Field warned: “The reality is if Bermuda loses all of its bees, Bermuda will not be able to survive.”

Bee Keeper, Spencer Field, removing a Hive from a tree on the junction of King and Union Street (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published November 30, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 30, 2017 at 11:54 am)

Residents buzzing after bees are removed

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