Catawba College is spending $32,000 to get several hundred thousand honeybees to buzz off of campus as humanely as possible.
The Salisbury college was besieged by bees last month, when a massive honeycomb up to 24 feet long was discovered in the wall of the Robertson College-Community Center. That forced the college to move its graduation ceremony to another site on campus.
Several other activities that were to take place in the building in late May and early June were canceled, including some dance recitals and a benefit dinner. And the Rowan-Salisbury School System had to relocate graduation ceremonies.
The college hired Animal Control Experts to provide a non-lethal way to remove the bees, college communications officer Tonia Black-Gold said. The work may last for a couple more weeks because there are so many bees, she said.
The college has dealt with bees before but nothing to this extent. “It’s just amazing,” Black-Gold added.
She said it was important to the college to remove them in a humane, environmentally sustainable way, even though that takes more time.
The bees were entering a hive through a small seam in the building’s brick exterior. The honeycomb was between the brick veneer and a cinder block wall, said Bryan Bosley, a wildlife biologist with Animal Control Experts.
It’s one of the larger commercial jobs the company has handled.
The company uses custom-built devices to force bees out of their hives and into an artificial hive, while sealing up the real hive so they cannot re-enter it.
The bees ultimately will be given away to various beekeepers.
Bosley estimated that the company already has removed upwards of 100,000 bees from the property, and another 200,000 to 300,000 remain.
After all of the bees are gone, the company will seal the area of the building where the bees got in.