BRADENTON -- The head custodian first noticed the hive Monday morning.
Kermith Miller then told Martha B. King Middle School Principal Robin Hardy. The men left the school at 600 75th St. N.W., and walked toward a long wooden fence.
High up on a pine tree underneath a tangle of leaves and moss was a thick, long hive. It was the home for Africanized bees, otherwise known as "killer bees."
Hardy said his first reaction was: "Whoa."
"It's 30 feet up, so it's off the ground. There was a gentleman out here from the University of Florida Extension Services and he said a nest of that size probably took about a year so it's been there, but you don't notice it," Hardy said Thursday afternoon. "Unless I point to it, you would not see it but then when you start looking, it's impressive. It's like whoa, that sucker is big!"
The large beehive was not technically on school property. It was on a homeowner's property at 7604 Fourth Ave. Drive N.W., Bradenton. The branch holding the hive dipped onto the campus air space though.
Manatee County School
District officials planned to remove the hive sometime between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday when students and staff were not expected to be at school.
Hardy said a trapper was contracted for the job.
Later that evening, a man who said he was employed with the Manatee County School District, but refused to give his name, did not let members of the press cover the removal of the hive on school property. He called the school grounds "private property."
District spokesman Steve Valley said the hive was supposed to be removed Wednesday, but rain prevented it.
He said there were no reports of students being stung or of any issues with the bees.
Hardy said his goal with regard to the bees has been to not let students know about it.
"I was once a 12-year-old boy and I would be back over after school and throwing stuff at it," he said.
Just before dismissal, the school principal walked out to the hive with school nurse Jackie Timms. Both leaned their heads back, squinting up at the hive in awe.
"It is a very impressive hive," Timms said. "This is the first time I've seen it and there seems to be a lot of action happening up there."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.