Master beekeeper Bill Owens found his Friday assignment to be a lofty challenge.
“They probably just moved in sometime this summer,” he said of a honeybee colony discovered in the historic parish house at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Augusta.
The challenge was getting to the bees’ entrance point, nearly 30 feet off the ground near the century-old building’s roofline.
With the aid of a long extension ladder, hammers, a prybar and assistant Jacob Hall, the siding around the colony was removed, and the bees were carefully collected with a portable shop vacuum.
“It’s pretty simple,” said Owens, owner of Georgia Bee Removal, based in Monroe, Ga. “You just vacuum up the bees and you have a wire basket inside, instead of a dust bag.”
The honeybees, which had already begun to manufacture honey in the eaves of the church building, will be taken
back to the Monroe area and placed in a hive.
Owens was brought in after church members began to notice the insects flying in and out of the building, said St. Paul’s member Dick Manning.
In addition to providing honey and beeswax, honeybees also play a critical role in plant pollination and are essential to many forms of agriculture. The honeybee was designated in 1975 as Georgia’s official state insect.