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How Do You Get Rid of4,000+ Uninvited Guests?

Last Tuesday a swarm of 4,000–5,000 bees descended on the climbing structure behind Room 4 in their search for a new home. While swarming bees don’t usually stay in one place for long, we didn’t want to wait for them to decide it was time to move on.

The first thing we did was whisk preschoolers in Rooms 3–5 into their classrooms and close the yard. Then we called Mike Stephanos. Mike is a beekeeper who lives in the neighborhood and is the father of one of our graduates.

Mike arrived the next morning. Using two bee brushes, he gently swept the critters into a cardboard “nuc” box, working with his bare hands and wearing only a beekeeper’s veil for protection. As he did, he explained what he was doing to a group of elementary students observing from the Tier 2 walkway above. Preschoolers watched in fascination from their classrooms.

The key to moving a swarm, Mike explained, is finding the queen, because where she goes, her swarm follows. He located the queen quickly and put her in a clear plastic “cage,” which he placed in the nuc box. Bees that had fallen onto the ground when Mike was sweeping them off the climbing structure would fly into the box to be with their queen.

Mike came back that night to remove the box, knowing bees don’t like to fly in the dark. He took the swarm home and moved it into an “observation hive” with a clear side so they can be seen. (You may have seen one like it at Lindsay Wildlife Experience. Mike helped make it for them.) He has 10 other hives.

Bee colonies seek out new homes when they outgrow their current ones or their health or safety is compromised.

Mike will be back on campus soon to show us the observation hive and tell us more about bees. “Bees are fun and very, very kind,” he told the students. “If you leave them alone and don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.”

Watch Mike remove the swarm in this video.


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