Tree surgeon in England goes out of his way to save 20,000 bees

bee and tree photo
CC BY 2.0 rumpleteaser

It's hard to beat honey, but humans can sure be sweet.

Last week, tree surgeon John Joinson was called out to dismantle and remove a large tree that was in danger of collapsing onto a roadway in Childer Thornton, England. But as John was preparing for his work, he noticed that bees were coming and going through a crack in the tree's trunk. So, lest he find himself the target of a bee-stinging campaign in defense of their hive homeland, the arborist wisely thought twice before revving up the chainsaw.

John tells his local paper, The Pioneer, that it would have been "easy to kill them with a can of wasp spray", but instead he decided to save them.

But how?

Soon enough, John was on the phone with local beekeeper who told him to plug the hole to keep the bees from attacking him as he trimmed around hive. Afterwards, the keeper made it out to the site armed with a handy trick to de-bee the tree.

“The bee keeper found the queen and isolated her – she was twice the size of the other bees. She was put in a small ventilated box and then placed in a bigger cardboard box," says John.

"When the bees returned, instead of going into the tree, they went into the box as she gives off a pheromone, and they could smell her. Over about four hours the majority of bees were in the box and not the nest. The bee keeper then took them to his hives in Llandegla. He said we saved about 20,000.”

While chances are that the bees hardly noticed the transition, John says he put in that extra effort to make sure they were safe because he knows that they have a job to do too, one that benefits us all.

"Everyone needs to know how important bees are. I have a moral duty to look after all creatures who live in trees as best as I can. Every job is different but I’ve never had one quite like this before.”

In recent decades, biologists in the UK and around the world have been confounded by a dramatic decline in bee populations, raising fears that the shortage of pollinators will put plant productivity in real jeopardy. Thankfully, there are folks like John Joinson who are doing their part to keep those black and yellow bugs in the pink.

Tags: Animals | Animal Welfare | Bees

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