In the ceiling of an office building in northwest Oklahoma City, bees had swarmed and formed a hive. Thousands of bees were getting into offices.
Bee handler Wendell Scott, 63, was called to get the bees out.
Scott found a honeycomb and bee eggs in the eaves of the roof. He usually tries to remove beehives by hand, leaving the bees unharmed, but in this case, he couldn't get to the bees without doing too much damage to the building, so he had to call a licensed exterminator.
This was just one of many swarms that have been keeping bee handlers busy this year in Oklahoma.
Bees are back
The bee population took a dive in 2011 due to the drought and lack of flowers and other plants. But with more rainfall this year, the bees are coming back, said Don Molnar, apiary specialist with the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department.
Bees don't just produce honey; they pollinate crops.
It's estimated that every third bite of food a person takes in the United States is made possible by honey bees and other pollinators, he said.
In recent years, something has been wiping out bee colonies across the country, Molnar said. The cause remains under investigation. It could have been from pesticides, fungus, virus or bacteria — or a combination. But bee populations dwindled.
About 60 to 80 percent of bee colonies nationwide were lost, he said.
Other insects and birds also are pollinators, but honey bees are the most important. Crops that depend on bees include fruit trees, watermelon, cantaloupe and almonds. Almonds can't be produced without bees, Molnar said.
“This year the bees in Oklahoma are in a lot better shape,” he said.
To keep bee population strong, people should reduce the use of pesticides as much as possible, Molnar said.
April to July is the time of year bees are found swarming in new places, such as a tree or a bush. Thousands of bees will follow a queen bee to a new spot to start making a hive.
People who have a swarm they want removed can find a list of swarm-catchers at the agriculture department website.
Beekeeper Brandon George, 27, of Bethany, is one of the swarm-catchers who picks up hives and swarms in central Oklahoma. George said he has collected several hives this year. He removed a swarm of bees from a front yard in Edmond earlier this month.
George takes the bees to his farm in Crescent.
When he arrives at a swarm, he carefully cuts the branch to remove it. He may use his hand to scoop up a swarm if necessary.
“Generally speaking, swarms are harmless. The bees are docile,” George said.
To find someone to remove a bee swarm, go to www.