Lifestyle & Belief

Honeybee house anything but a home sweet home


Bees cover a honeycomb rack as urban beekeeper Erika Mayr checks on the health as well as the honey content of one of her honey bee colonies on the roof of a building in Kreuzberg district on May 22, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Mayr is among a growing number of city dwellers who are giving urban beekeeping a try. She maintains colonies that contain approximately 200,000 bees at two rooftop locations in Berlin, and sells the 100kg of honey she harvests annually at local markets.


Sean Gallup

When Loretta Yates found honey dripping from cracks in her ceiling, she realized she had a “sweet mess” on her hands.

Turns out, she also had as many as 180,000 bees living in the ceilings of the Varney, Ontario home she shares with her husband and 22-month-old son.

“I guess with the cracked ceiling in the kitchen and the honey dripping on me — that was time to get help,” she told The Canadian Press on Monday.

Varney is a couple of hours northwest of Toronto.

She moved into the house five years ago, but has no idea when the insects arrived, or if they were there from the beginning.

Yates first noticed the honey two weeks ago.

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She told radio station CFOS that her insurance wouldn’t help and the problem was too big for pest control companies, so she called a beekeeper.

David Schuit of Saugeen Country Honey removed her ceiling and scraped away some honey; he estimated there was 2,000 pounds of it in the house.

It took him about five hours on Monday to remove two queens and the honey, The Toronto Sun reported today.

The two hives were separated by a divider in the roof.

“If the queen leaves the hive, the whole hive goes with her,” he told The Toronto Sun. “They don’t want to stay in the hive without her. It’s really amazing. Bees are fascinating.”

He originally estimated 180,000 bees when he first inspected the house, but he said one of the hives swarmed and left.

That made his cleanup easier since he just had to remove 30,000 of the bees.

"The operation was better than I anticipated," Schuit said.

He said he believes a hive of yellow jacket wasps also bunks with the Yates.

“We don’t hear them buzzing or anything. It’s just the crack in the ceiling. Like you’re standing in the kitchen and you get honey dripped down your hair. It’s not pleasant,” Yates said, according to the Sun.

“Until we’d seen the massive honey dripping and stuff, I didn’t know what we were really dealing with was as big a problem as it’s turned out to be.”

The scary part of Yates is she noticed a third swarm outside her home last week, but they couldn’t find a way inside.

The honey will be used for candles rather than eaten.

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