Experts remove bee hive from electric power station

The buzzing sound from a high-voltage Georgia Power substation at DSM Chemicals turned out to be more than electricity.

Engineers making a routine inspection discovered honeybees had chosen the 115,000-volt switchyard as a location for their new hive—which presented a dilemma of sorts for workers.

“From a safety standpoint it wasn't good to have these bees in this kind of area,” said Walter Dukes, Georgia Power's regional vice president. “We wanted to find someone who could remove them, but we also wanted to do the right thing and not kill them.”

After a few calls to the Georgia Extension Service, they connected with local pediatrician and part-time bee wrangler Tracy Middlebrooks, who was delighted to help evict the bees from the high voltage equipment.

“It's highly unusual to see them like this,” Dr. Middlebrooks said of the exposed honeycombs, which dangled in linear sections from beneath a steel beam. “The hives are usually enclosed and almost never out in the open like that.”

On Wednesday, accompanied by safety officials, plant managers, electrical engineers and security personnel, the bee rescue commenced with a cursory misting with sugared water, followed by puffs of light smoke. “This calms them down a little,” Dr. Middlebrooks said.

The honey-laden combs were cut away one by one and placed in a more typical wooden beehive, which will be left in the switchyard for a week or more to allow the bees to become accustomed to their new home.

After that, they will be relocated as a group to a safer place.

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