Two honey bee infestations were safely removed and transferred to a safe location this week by local beekeeper Monica Sheppard.
Sheppard and her beekeeping group, BeeShees — which includes her daughter Ramsey Cook, Andi Beyer and Denise Champagne — are often contacted by local residents to help remove swarms and infestations.
“When folks have bees show up in their yard or in the wall of their house, the first instinct is to call an exterminator, but bees are protected in the state of Georgia,” Sheppard said. “An exterminator will tell you to call a beekeeper instead.”
On Thursday morning, Lou Dempsey contacted Sheppard about an office building in Rome that had some bees underneath it.
Sheppard and her daughter went out and spent hours laying underneath the trailer with a special vacuum to remove the bees and safely extract the queen.
“They repaid us by getting loose in the car on the way to the bee yard,” she said.
It’s usually a lot easier to remove the hive if it’s in a tree or yard, according to Sheppard, but one infestation was found high in a tree at the corner of Second Avenue and Broad Street in the Spires parking lot earlier this month.
“So we had to go and set up a ladder and get up in there and try to capture that form,” she said. “And we were able to capture them, it actually took us two trips, but we couldn’t get the queen either time.”
She believes it originated from a hive that’s located on the roof of Hawthorn Suites on Second Avenue.
Often times, if a queen can’t be captured or located, beekeepers will try and get the hive to accept a new queen.
June is National Pollinator Month and Rome is an affiliate of Bee City USA, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting pollinators, such as butterflies, wasps, hornets, hummingbirds, beetles and of course, bees.
“Honey bees are kind of the poster child of the pollinator world,” she said.
To become an affiliate of Bee City USA, a town must have a certain number of beekeepers, pollinator gardens and pollinator education available to anyone.
Sheppard works with Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful director Emma Wells, who helps oversee the chapter, and West End Elementary School, which has a program dedicated to teaching kids about pollinators.
While they can’t plan any special events this month, due to the coronavirus, the beekeeper hopes to continue to inform people about the importance of pollinators to the environment.