BRADENTON -- A beekeeper removed about 50,000 bees from a tree on Main Street at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and will relocate them to help with pollination in other areas of the country.
Jackie Corley, a beekeeper for 36 years, was called by the city of Bradenton to take down the large honey bee hive in a tree just outside O'Bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar on Old Main Street.
Corley said he filled a 5-gallon box with bees from the hive. The removal took about an hour, attracted several bystanders and Corley was stung only once.
"It's a primary swarm. During swarming season, which is September and October, the first swarms that leave out are primary swarms, and they carry a lot more bees with them," Corley said. "So this one filled a 5-gallon bucket, but a secondary swarm might be the size of a football or a volleyball."
Corley said he would take the swarm and eventually ship the bees to another part of the country short on honey bees, which needs them for pollination. He has sent groups of honey bees to Maine, California and other states. He said people should always call a beekeeper when they see hives on their properties rather than trying to kill them.
"Honey bees are vital to our existence. About 85 percent of all the foods that we eat, like fruits and vegetables, require pollinators," Corley said. "Honey bees account for essentially 85 percent of all crop pollination. Without them, many fruits and vegetables wouldn't set and make a fruit."
Before shipping the bees, Corley said he will extract the queen and make sure a European one is placed in the hive. European honey bees are more docile and less likely to sting, while African bees are more aggressive.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter@KateIrby