Univ. of Houston finds bee infestation in building

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November 16, 2007

1:04 PM

__Officials decide to keep bees alive in nearby field instead of killing them__

p. Most people’s reaction upon discovering a beehive is to have them exterminated, but officials at the University of Houston are trying another approach.

p. University officials recently discovered a hive containing over 100,000 honeybees in the engineering building and, instead of killing the bees, decided to hire a beekeeper to transport the hive to a nearby wooded area.

p. “The first thing we said was this is not something where we’re going to go in there and shoot a lot of chemicals and kill them,” said Alex Alexander, the institution’s custodial and grounds director.

p. The bees were first reported when workers noticed a small group of the insects around the top back corner of the three-story building six months ago. After the bees were briefly sprayed with water, they disappeared for a time.

p. However, when honey started dripping from the bricks, the true size of the hive was revealed.

p. Although no one has reported being stung, the university decided not to take any chances with a hive of this size.
“You can imagine — you’re trying to take your exam and for whatever reason the bees decide they’re going to swarm,” Alexander said. “That kind of disruption, we couldn’t allow.”

p. The university determined that killing the bees was not an option; the insects are depended upon to pollinate many of the trees and flowers throughout the 550-acre campus in downtown Houston. In addition, considering a declining bee population that has puzzled many researchers throughout the United States, the university did not want to contribute to the trend.

p. Many engineering students claimed that they had not even known that there was a bee problem in the building.

p. “I’ve never seen one bee and I walk around there all the time,” mechanical engineering major and senior Aaron Risinger said.

p. Mike Knuckley, the beekeeper hired by the university, stated that homeowners and businesses may not recognize or know the presence of a hive for months or even years at a time.

p. “You can walk right by their entry way a lot of times, and if you don’t disturb them, you’ll never know they’re there,” said Knuckley. “They’re interested in taking care of their own business.”

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