Swarm of 20,000 bees relocated from Gordon Head Community Hall in Saanich

Swarm of 20,000 bees relocated from Gordon Head Community Hall in Saanich
WatchTwenty thousand bees and 30 pounds of honey. It's the latest rescue mission for Barry the beekeeper, who was called into the Gordon Head Community Hall after one worker discovered a massive swarm of bees. Jasmine Bala has the story.

It’s a sweet, but sticky situation that’s created a bit of buzz at the Gordon Head Community Hall.

“We were painting the side of the building and our painters told us that there was a bee nest up against the pillar at the top,” said Louise Egan, director of the Gordon Head Mutual Improvement Society that runs the building.

When the painters took a closer look, they realized it was a bigger problem than they had initially thought.

They were looking at about 20,000 bees and 30 pounds of honey hidden in the rafters.

“Because of issues with honey bees and them being rather fragile in some circumstances, it seemed to make sense to find a way to re-home the bees as opposed to killing them,” said Egan, who was wearing a mask of a bear holding a jar of honey. “So I went online and found Barry.”

Barry Denluck is a beekeeper of 20 years located in Greater Victoria. He’s dressed in a white beekeeping suit and wearing long, blue gloves.

Over the years, he’s dealt with many tricky rescues. But this one, Denluck said, is one of the more complex ones he’s dealt with.

“They’re two storeys up above my head in an outside wall just under the roof there,” he said, looking up at the building. “The scaffolding will get me up there. We’ll have to cut the wall open, find the space they’re in and pull it out piece by piece.”

“I will have a lot of bees buzzing around my head, to say the least,” he added.

Wasting no more time, Denluck climbed the scaffolding and began to cut open the wall. Once he could see the bees behind a panel, Denluck pulled out his special bee vacuum. It’s a high volume, low-pressure vacuum that pulls the bees into the case without harming them.

“The vacuum only holds about 10,000 bees,” he explained. “We’re going to have to transfer them into a bee box and then continue vacuuming up the rest.”

Denluck finished collecting the bees in his vacuum. It was time to transfer them over to the box. But before he could do that, Denluck needed to do one more thing.

“Ah, this cools me down,” Denluck said, spritzing himself with peppermint spray. “What it’s going to do is calm the bees and wet their wings so they don’t fly so much. So I got to be quick.”

He grabbed the vacuum, unscrewed it, and dumped it into the bee box within a matter of seconds. Denluck topped off the box with a screen cover.

“I would say that’s half full, that’s close to four, five thousand bees,” Denluck said, examining the box.

Denluck walked back to the building and repeated the whole process over again, until he got all of the bees. It was finally time to put them in his truck and relocate them to his backyard.

“Set them up in a beehive so they can continue their colony,” he said. “And somewhere in there, I hope I got the queen.”

The hole in the wall will stay open for a few days, Denluck explained, so other bees in the area can clean up the bits of honey he wasn’t able to get.

“And then [I’ll] come back and put it together and paint touch-ups to make it look like I never was here,” he said, smiling.

It’s all in a day’s work for Barry the beekeeper: A sweet job that always leaves him buzzing.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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