Bees take over hive-shaped Alberta home




BLACKFALDS, Alta. — The droning started softly at first, as if someone in a distant farm field was using a mower, or some other piece of power equipment.

But the hum grew louder, and louder.

By the time the dense black cloud appeared over their Blackfalds, Alta., home, the Morgan family was staring skywards, wondering what could cause such a constant, droning din on an otherwise peaceful morning.

“We were sitting around a campfire, about 11:30 in the morning, having our coffee — and then suddenly there’s this droning sound, like an auger,” said Cheryl Morgan.

“It got louder and louder, and my husband looked up — and it was ‘whoooooah!’ It was unbelievable, you looked up and there they are, a black cloud of bees, circling the house, as if they were saying, ‘Oooh, look at this.’”

Impressed bees?

That’s what you get when your house happens to look like a giant beehive — and though Cheryl and her husband Wade appreciate their geodesic dome house for its strength and heating advantages, the bees just seem naturally drawn to the round structure.

“Maybe they saw it as a ready-made beehive, so they moved right in,” said Morgan.

And that, unfortunately, isn’t a living arrangement that can last on the acreage, just north of Red Deer.

It’s too bad, because the bees are clearly content with this mother of all hives — literally thousands of the buzzing creatures have made it home.

According to bee experts who are helping the Morgans deal with their unwelcome guests, this is the time of year when large bee colonies split up to establish new hives, and job No. 1 is making the new digs comfortable for the queen and what will soon be a massive clutch of eggs.

And that makes the human job of evicting the would-be honey factory all the more urgent.

The experts at Apiaries and Bees for Communities in Calgary helped Morgan find a beekeeper willing to take the whole hive.

Instead of an exterminator, the beekeeper will remove the royal and her subjects as carefully as possible to ensure the new colony survives.

With honey bees around the world dying off at a concerning rate, saving colonies that are thriving is vital — especially in Alberta, which produces more than 40% of Canada’s honey.

Thanks to long hours of sun and crops like clover, alfalfa and canola, bees here also produce twice the world average of honey, with 144 lbs of honey, per hive, each year.

Morgan says she’s glad her bee invasion will have a happy ending.

“I thought it was nice to hear something positive, because everyone is so concerned about the been population in Alberta,” she said.

As for the beehive shaped home, Morgan is hoping a change of colour might make it a little less attractive to future queens.

“We are getting brown shingles, so hopefully that helps,” she said.

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