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Ruskin bees aren’t killers

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By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

RUSKIN — According to Ken Stack, a bee expert from the Quail Hollow Bee Farm, thousands of bees that have swarmed a tree at the Lone Pine RV Park in Ruskin are not of the killer variety; they are just simple honey bees returning to a place they once called home.

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MITCH TRAPHAGEN PHOTO
Ken Stack, a Bay area bee expert, discusses how he will safely remove the bees from an Australian pine tree at Lone Pine RV Park. The swarm is in the tree just feet above him.

“Somewhere out there is a larger hive and they just outgrew it,” Stack said.  “They found this place before they came here through a scouting party.  The bees have been here before.  They knew about this place.  The resin they coated the chamber with years before was like an invisible vacancy sign.”

Park manager Dennis Courtway confirmed Stack’s suspicion, saying “I talked to the owner. They had the same problem about 30 years ago.  Same problem, same tree.”

Stack went into an in-depth explanation on the cycle of bees, and how they made this home and how eventually they would leave on their own accord to find a new home; but Dennis had another suggestion.

“I just want to get rid of them,” he said.  “If you don’t mind.”

Stack feels he can easily transport the swarm to another location without harming them or the tree.  He will basically create a one-way door from the nest into a chamber that will capture the bees.  They will then be provided to area beekeepers.  Stack is frequently the first person to take calls for help from government organizations and from neighborhood groups spooked by bees.  He isn’t worried about them — he has done this before.

“Whenever you want to get started is fine with me,” Courtway told Stack with a chuckle.

Read the full story from the Oct. 7, 2010 edition here.

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