MANATEE -- Kevin Lausman sounded disappointed over the phone Friday when he spoke about the recent beehive situation near Martha B. King Middle School.
Lausman, a licensed beekeeper and master beekeeper with the University of Florida, heard about the large beehive on a homeowner's property at 7604 Fourth Ave. Drive N.W., Bradenton. The branch holding the hive, which was high up on a pine tree, dipped onto the middle school's air space.
Despite early reports that the bees had been "Africanized," or displayed certain undesirable traits (such as excessive defensiveness and swarming), Lausman disagreed after checking out the situation in person
He said they were honey bees.
"They don't have any of the characteristics of Africanized bees," he said. "They also don't make real big hives like that one."
Friday afternoon, Manatee schools spokesman Steve Valley answered questions about the situation.
"They don't know that. That can only be determined after an analysis," he said of whether or not the bees were Africanized.
Valley added that the district's priority was removing the hive for the safety of the 1,100 King Middle School students.
"What would happen if a middle-school student was allergic to bees and all of a sudden got stung?" he said, adding that the district had received guidance on how to handle the situation from bee experts at the University of Florida.
Lausman and Neal Finelli, president of the Indian Springs Homeowners Association, who contacted the homeowner about the district's plan to remove the hive, said they tried contacting the school district to stop officials from going through with the removal. Lausman said he had wanted to save the hive.
Instead, he said, it looked as if a pest-control company, Florida Wildlife Trapper, had sprayed chemicals on the hive late Thursday night. A voicemail message to the company was not returned Friday.
Lausman said when he returned to the scene Friday, he noticed numerous dead bees on the ground while some still swarmed around the hive. He said the ones on the ground had a chemical smell to them.
"Now my big concern is that the contaminated hive and honey is possibly contaminating all the other bees in the area," Lausman said.
The hive was still there, he added.
Lausman said he understood the school district's concerns, but added he was most upset about how the job was done. He said the hive should have been taken completely and discarded properly so as not to affect other bees.
Valley said he believed most of the hive was removed Thursday night.
Finelli said he and Lausman didn't want the hive destroyed.
"Instead, the school board got very aggressive," he said. "The bees were not harming anyone for over a year so why not wait another day to do the right thing instead of doing the wrong thing?"
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.