A Cape May, N.J. woman thought something might be amiss when she noticed hundreds of honey bees buzzing near the wisteria, roses and daisies in her backyard.
Victoria Clayton noticed the trail of bees led to an unused dryer vent in her house, so she called a honey bee expert to investigate.
Turns out, the bees were living in the attic of her 19th century home, where they had made more than 25 pounds of honey and honeycomb.
“I could not believe that it took probably a year or less for these tiny little bees to build such an elaborate comb,” Clayton said.
About 30,000 bees had built neat rows of honeycomb three feet wide on the underside of the attic floorboards.
“It was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen,” Clayton said. “I hated to see them go.”
Cape May Court House-based honey bee rescuer Gary Schempp excavated the honey, combs and bees from the attic through a hole he cut in the floorboards.
“You could see rows and rows of beautiful golden honey, thousands of bees, you could see baby bees, you could see broods, you could see pollen collected,” Schempp said.
With his business Busy Bees NJ, Schempp makes a living removing honeybees from within bedroom walls, roof joists and garages. He often takes them to his farm in Cape May Courthouse, where he re-establishes the colonies and harvests the honey.
Schempp once removed an estimated 150,000 bees from a single bedroom wall. If the combs are not removed, honey can seep through ceilings and walls and cause considerable damage to homes.
He uses infrared and tiny cameras snaked through holes in walls to locate bee colonies once a homeowner calls him in.
In New Jersey it is illegal to kill honey bees, whose populations have declined significantly in the past twenty years due to Colony collapse disorder.