Swarming bees bug Strandfontein woman

Some of the bees that stayed behind after a swarm was sighted in Strandfontein earlier this month. Picture: Menisha Martin

A Strandfontein woman, desperate to see the back of a swarm of bees, was given some relief when a hive was removed from her home yesterday, Tuesday October 3.

Infinity Bees, a bee-removal service, removed a swarm of bees from the home of Menisha Martin, 30.

Ms Martin told the Plainsman on Friday September 22 she had seen a black cloud of bees outside her house earlier this month as some of the bees inside a cavity between her yard’s wall and her neighbour’s wall had buzzed off.

The bees moved into the cavity a year ago and have been a source of distress for her.

“This is something you will only see in movies,” she said.

Kaylan Williams-Parenzee, 25, Ms Martin’s neighbour – but not the one whose boundary wall houses the bees – also saw the swarm.

“I was hanging the washing and heard the bees. I called Menisha and told her to look out. You just saw black outside. Later that day, it was at our neighbour’s house. For a few days, I saw bees in our house,” she said.

Prior to the partial removal Ms Martin was too afraid to let her children play outside or hang her washing,

Yesterday, Infinity Bees broke open a piece of the wall cavity, cut the honeycomb out and carefully removed it.

They placed the honeycomb in an empty frame and attached it with elastic bands. Once all the honeycomb was removed, they scooped the bees into the box placed next to the cavity. They put the queen in the queen clip and removed the rest of the bees, said founder Audrey de Jongh, from Infinity Bees.

The box will stay at the home for two days and will be entirely removed on the third day, she said.

However, more bees remain inside the wall cavity and it has proved difficult to dislodge them.

“We inspected the wall cavity between the neighbour’s boundary wall and the vibracrete wall and found a swarm inside the brick wall and signs that the other swarm that left were indeed a travelling swarm that was finding shelter in the cavity between the two boundary walls,” said Ms De Jongh.

Ms Martin said she had asked the City for help last year when the problem had surfaced, but she had been told that as the owner of the property it was her responsibility to have the bees removed.

The City confirmed this in an email to the Plainsman, saying it only dealt with such cases if they were in nature reserves, public parks or on council property.

Ms Martin said she feared the bees could pose a threat to the community, and it was fortunate that no children had been outside when the bees had swarmed otherwise they might have been attacked.

Ms De Jongh echoed those concerns.

“We are very concerned that people find ways to kill bees. This can have terrible consequences for the community. The bees can attack and sting everyone within reach. We ask the public to rather call us to remove the bees safely. Once they start attacking, they won’t stop. We were very lucky the swarm moved on and didn’t attack anyone. It could have been disastrous.”

Infinity Bees plans to safely and humanely remove the bees once it has the cooperation of Ms Martin’s neighbour. Ms De Jongh said the job would need to be done soon because the bees were likely to become more active in spring with accelerated breeding.

She said the swarm could grow in size rapidly as it was well established, and more bees could be attracted to the hive.

“It is nature’s problem that we have to flow with now,” said Ms Martin.

The Plainsman was unable to contact Ms Martin’s neighbour for comment by deadline.

Ms De Jongh is appealing to the community to support her efforts to remove the bees safely. Contact her at 081 373 8765 or audrey@infinitybees.co.za.

The bees are inside a cavity between Ms Martin’s wall and her neighbour’s wall
A bee-removal service lured some of the bees out of the cavity using a baited box that mimics the inside of a beehive