Why a Florida homeowner regrets killing thousands of swarming honey bees

Heather Rivera is having regrets two days after having pest control eradicate a swarm of honeybees.

"I just wish it could have been different," she said. "Bees are valuable. I wish I knew about free bee removal. I wouldn't have made the decision to kill them."

The Florida resident had been running errands when she returned Saturday afternoon to the duplex she shares with her father. She parked in her father's garage and went to her side, seeing about seven or eight bees flying around.

"Two or three hours later, I came into the garage and there were thousands of bees," she said. "The air was thick with bees — I've only seen stuff like that in the movies."

She said they covered the garage wall, the garage floor and the SUV.

"They were a carpet of bees — A moving carpet of bees," Rivera said. "Thousands. Oh my gosh, I had no idea what to do."

Paul Shannon, of Shannon Farms Honey in Buckingham, said bees can swarm pretty quickly, and he's not surprised at the sudden influx.

It's part of nature, with a new queen splitting off from the original hive.

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"It reassures the population of the honeybee," Shannon said, adding that as long as the bees aren't provoked in some fashion, they are safe "90 percent" of the time.

Rivera posted a message on Cape Coral Residents Group Facebook page along with a video, but it took hours to get approved. In the meantime, she looked up pest control, fearing for her dog, a 12-year-old Shepherd-Akita mix and her 80-year-old father.

When it did get approved, she had people giving advice that they'd likely leave.

"People say they would have left," she said. "There are still bits of honeycomb on my car. They weren't looking for a new home, I think they were making one."

She felt she had to act quickly, and called pest control.

"I know how valuable they are," she said of the bees. "I didn't have the resources I needed."

Shannon said people shouldn't be scared to call beekeepers, even on nights and weekends.

"Beekeepers work all day every day," Shannon said. "Definitely contact them; pest control is always just going to exterminate the problem."

Shannon's website, www.freebeeremovalflorida.com, says live bee removal is more important today than ever because the use of pesticides to eliminate bee problems has greatly reduced the population of honey bees.

"I always recommend contacting a professional," he said. "They do the extraction the safest ways, the most humane ways.

"I would always suggest calling a beekeeper to handle a bee situation."

He said they are easily accessed by contacting a local beekeeping association or looking for beekeepers on the Internet. The Beekeepers Association of Southwest Florida, at www.swfbees.com, for example, has plenty of resources listed, with a tab called "Bee removal".

It's an option Rivera wished she would have been able to access easily. She hopes that others learn from her experience.

"I'm hoping these bees aren't going to die in vain," she said.

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