By LOIS KINDLE
It’s bee swarming season, but there’s no need to kill what some scientists call the most important species on earth. If you have a bunch of bees trying to set up home on your property, call Sam “the Bee Whisperer” Goodwin or another licensed area beekeeper to have these essential “intruders” moved.
Swarming is a natural process in the bee world. When their colonies becomes too crowded, about half of the bees in the hive fly off to start a new hive. This usually coincides with the blooming season of plants when nectar and pollen are abundant.
“Bees can create a hive in any cavity – trees, rock crevices, wall of a home or car, even a water meter,” said Goodwin, 68.
But there’s no reason to panic when they show up.“There are numerous methods for removing unwanted bees,” he said. “A swarm in the open is normally easy if it’s not too high up. I shake them into a hive and hope the queen falls in with the swarm. Better yet, I catch and cage the queen, and the rest of the bees will march into the hive voluntarily.
“For bees in walls, trees or other cavities, I use trap outs, [a process called] forced abscond and cut-outs,” he added. “I won’t try to handle anything [that] my age or common sense dictates otherwise, but I will help locate the bees and advise anyone who contacts me.”
The Apollo Beach resident, Army retiree and former defense contractor grew up in Ruskin and graduated from East Bay High School. He started beekeeping eight years ago with four backyard hives in Lorton, Virginia. By the time he moved back to Ruskin last year, he had 10 hives to bring with him and actually moved his bees to the Circle Pond Tiny Home Community even before finding a home for himself and his wife Linda.
Honey bees pollinate flowering plants and collect pollen and nectar from them to take back to their hives.
As a registered beekeeper licensed by the state, Goodwin is qualified to inspect hives annually to certify bee health and to give advice, as needed. He provides his bee-removal services for free out of love and respect for the tiny creatures.
“I’m fascinated with their behavior and their role in the circle of life,” he said. “I enjoy being outside and working with nature. Beekeeping enables me to do both.”
“Sam eats, drink and sleeps bees, and he’s continually learning and educating others,” said Debbie Caneen, Circle Pond Tiny Home Community owner. “Bee numbers are drastically declining, so rather than grabbing a can of insecticide, call him so they can be rehomed rather than killed.”
According to Goodwin, bees are dying for a number of reasons. It’s named Colony Collapse Disorder, which is primarily caused by Varroa mites, acute paralysis virus, gut parasite Nosema, widespread pesticide poisoning and habitat loss.
While the public can’t do much about the mites, virus or parasites, we can stop using harmful pesticides or herbicides around our homes and gardens. We should try researching some bee-friendly alternatives and plant flowers and herbs they like, including lavender, honeysuckle, marigolds and mint. They especially like these colors: purple, violet, yellow and blue. Supporting organic farmers can also help bees.
“Bees are a great environmental health indicator, and they pollinate one-third of our food supply,” Goodman said. “We can’t afford to ignore them.”
Goodwin also sells fresh honey from more than 25 hives. The cost is as follows: 2-ounce jar, $2; 12-ounce jar, $8; and 24-ounce jar, $15.
To purchase honey, request bee removal or arrange a class for children, Scouts, small groups or prospective beekeepers, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.