Brian Stoner (center) sweeps bees off a branch into a hive box on Friday, July 13. The bees were relocated to the home of a nearby beekeeper who had lost a hive last winter. (Patti Warburton photo)Collin and Finn Grayden watch the last of a hive of honey bees crawl inside a hive box to rejoin their queen. The boys, along with their mother Lindsey Grayden, transported the hive to a new home (R. Colyer photo).

What’s the buzz?

Giant honeybee hive finds new home

ENNIS—When Esther Warburton left her home to run some errands on Thursday, July 12, there wasn’t a bee in sight.

By later that afternoon, a huge hive had built itself in the tree in her front yard. 

“When I left I didn’t hear a thing,” she says. “And when I came back a couple hours later, the whole tree was buzzing.”

Throughout the afternoon, she watched as the hive expanded, and by Friday morning, the thing was “solid,” she says, holding her hands about a foot apart. So, she called Brian Stoner, owner of Montana Wildlife Control Services, who came down from Belgrade. Warburton wasn’t sure whether the hive contained wasps, hornets or innocent honey bees, and didn’t want to take any chances.

“Had it been hornets or wasps, I would have had to come in and spray, and dispatch them,” says Stoner. “But with honey bees, we would just try to move them, since they’re in so much trouble already.”

As it turns out, it was honey bees inside the hive. With global honey bee populations suffering due to abnormalities like colony collapse disorder, and because of their important role as pollinators, Warburton and Stoner agreed they didn’t want to hurt the bees if they didn’t have to.

So, Stoner donned his bee suit and, with the help of Warburton’s neighbor Lindsey Grayden and Grayden’s sons Collin and Finn, cut off a limb of the tree and scooped the bees into a hive box. Grayden then took the box to a friend of hers who keeps bees, whose hive had been decimated by last winter’s cold weather.

Everyone got a happy ending, including the bees. Ennis got quite the Friday buzz, but nobody involved got so much as a single sting.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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