Most homeowners have stories about mice or even cockroaches or termites taking up residence within their home, but not many can say they’ve had honeybees in their walls. According to one such homeowner from Hillside, New Jersey, which is near Newark in North Jersey, it had become “really noisy” due to the honeybees “humming and huddling up together” inside the wall, but he didn’t have any idea about the sheer number of bees that had been buzzing beneath the surface.
Specifically, there were roughly 30,000 along with around 40 pounds’ worth of honey, per Mickey Hegedus, the third-generation beekeeper who removed the bees. “This is insane,” Hegedus said moments after opening a wall in this home, which he captured on video and recently posted online. “What I’m doing is I’m slowly cutting out each piece of lath—and as I do it, it just exposes more bees and more honey and more comb. These are Africanized—these are the most aggressive bees I think I’ve ever cut out of a hive.”
Known as “Mickey the Beekeeper” around New Jersey and New York, Hegedus said it appeared the honeybees had gotten into the home through an opening outside that was intended for wiring. Because Africanized bees are as aggressive as they are, they are often much better foragers, creating more honey stores and building more comb compared to other bees. Hegedus also said they tend to be more defensive—all these factors, in addition to the warmer spring we had this year, added to the massive size of the hive.
Oftentimes, exterminating a hive should be the last option, per New Jersey’s Beekeeper’s Association, which dictates that honeybees “should be left alone unless their hive is in conflict with human activity.” Excluding colonies within buildings and similar indoor structures, it’s also illegal in several states, including New Jersey, to kill honeybee colonies without the approval of appropriate agencies.
Once he knew there were bees in the wall and not something else, Hegedus drilled a slight hole into the wall before sliding a camera in to get a good look at the swarm. Several bees came through the drilled hole and, according to Hegedus, “flew right at my head…and started stinging,” which is a solid indicator of Africanized bees. Upon opening the wall, Hegedus was stung roughly 30 times, mostly near the wrists where his bee suit and gloves met. Using a specialized vacuum that was connected to a hive box, Hegedus gently began sucking the bees out of the wall—and off of his body. “I had to—they wouldn’t stop,” he added, also saying the process took around five hours.
While Hegedus saved the hive, these honeybees were too aggressive to keep for himself or give away, so, rather than exterminate them, he opted to compromise by releasing them in an isolated part of Mountainside, New Jersey.
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