PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - 10 On Your Side got a call from a viewer with an unusual problem. She thought there was a huge bee hive in her yard, but that wasn't what it was at all.
A swarm of honey bees made a tree in Vontrese Rodgers' yard their home. Unlike a hive, a honey bee swarm has no queen and is in the process of developing a new colony.
Your first instinct might be to kill them, but doing so could cost you in the long run - at the grocery store.
From a distance, the massive swarm looked like a big, black blob.
"I was afraid to come out," Rodgers said.
Rodgers didn't want to kill the bees, knowing their population is at risk. But, the Portsmouth resident didn't know what to do.
That's where Beekeeper Hodgie Holgerson comes in.
"Some communities you kill bees, you go to jail that's how valuable it is," Holgerson said.
"This is about the worst place for them to swarm," Holgerson explained of the infestation in Rodgers' yard.
The beekeeper told WAVY.com he's been busier than usual this spring. Thanks to warm winter weather, swarms are buzzing around earlier and bigger than usual.
The swarm in Rodgers' yard was about the size of a basketball, with a population of around 15,000. But, the honey bees were pretty gentle.
"I can take my bare hands and scoop them into the bucket," Holgerson said. "If you do it gently enough and scoop 'em off, that's how docile they are."
For this big job, Holgerson opted for something with a little more power - a special vacuum.
"If you do it with a regular vacuum, you'll kill 'em," Holgerson explained.
Once the job was complete, he took the bees home to his hive.
Rodgers added, "I'm glad there's somebody that can save our bees, and I got some honey too."
Holgerson advises you not kill swarms found on your property. For one, he says, you won't get them all, and the surviving bees will become aggressive and mean. The next reason is more environmental, as bees pollinate about a third of the foods we eat, like apples and strawberries. Fewer bees could mean fewer plants, leaving you with more to pay at the grocery store.
Tidewater Beekeepers Association offers free honeybee swarm collecting as a public service.
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