A swarm of bees was found near Milton City Hall last week, spurring officials to reach out to local beekeepers to remove the hive built underneath a park bench near the entrance to the building.
Officials said the hive was discovered after a City Council meeting last week. Local beekeeper Willard Beasley was contacted the next day to remove the hive. Beasley contacted Bill Dunsford who performed the physical extraction, free of charge to the City.
"They called us to get them quick," Beasley said. "Most bee people work together. Without people's help, we can't do it."
Dunsford said it took around an hour to remove the hive from the bench. He began, wearing protective material, but removed the gear through the process because of the heat. Dunsford, a Sergeant with the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office, said he has been keeping bees for around four years.
"Honeybees only attack if you squash them," Dunsford said. "They only attack if you threaten their home."
The bees were removed from City property using smoke and a little bit of moisture. The smoke confused the bees, stunning their senses for long enough to spray the bees with water. The wet bees are unable to fly and more manageable to capture.
"It makes them settle down," Beasley said. "We typically spray with plain water, and some use water with peppermint candy."
They were Italian bees, a gentler type of honeybee, according to Beasley. He estimated 5,000 to 6,000 bees were part of the hive, which was around the size of a volleyball.
Beasley said bees can be attracted to anything. They have a tendency to set up hives in hollow trees and various locations. It was speculated that there may be a larger hive in the area. When a hive becomes too large, some bees will leave and form their own hive.
While it may have been a liability issue for the City, Beasley said bees have a positive effect on the community. They play an essential role in pollination of plants and flowers, effecting everything from landscaping and large farming operations.
"Everybody has gone crazy over planting hybrid plants," Beasley said. "It needs a bee to work it."
The hive is being relocated, according to Dunsford.
Experts recommend they contact authorities if they have a threatening bee situation. Emergency Management can be reached at 983-5360.