SAN MARCOS, Texas — When Charlie Agar pried open the lid of an deserted piece of farm equipment in San Marcos not too long ago, he discovered a candy treasure inside. Glistening honeycombs lined a lot of the rectangular hole contained in the tools.
However the honey was guarded by 5,000 to six,000 wild bees that Agar had been employed to take away. One instantly stung him on his hand. The 50-year-old New Braunfels, Texas, beekeeper simply grinned, scooped his naked hand contained in the hive and introduced out a fistful of bees to look at.
“I’m simply on the lookout for the queen,” he stated.
Agar, 50, not solely removes wild beehives for a dwelling but in addition vacuums up and strikes the bees to a rural piece of property the place he builds new hives for them. He rents a number of the hives out to native landowners, who can place them on their land to get a break on their property taxes beneath sure tips.
He additionally mentors army veterans as a part of a nonprofit program known as Hives for Heroes that connects veterans with beekeepers. Agar stated beekeeping may help calm individuals with post-traumatic stress dysfunction as a result of it makes them deal with the bees.
Serving to honeybees is vital as a result of they supply pollination that contributes almost $20 billion to the worth of U.S. crop manufacturing every year, based on the American Beekeeping Federation. However honeybee colonies are affected by illness and die-offs throughout the nation. A nationwide survey finished by the nonprofit Bee Knowledgeable confirmed that from October 2020 to April 2021, an estimated 32.2% of managed colonies in america had been misplaced. In Texas throughout that very same time interval, 37.5% of the managed colonies had been misplaced, based on the survey.
Agar, who sells the honey from his hives, stated he has about 120 bee colonies. “My slogan is ‘Saving bees and sweetening teas,’” he stated.
On the identical day he eliminated the bees from the farm tools in San Marcos, Agar tore off the siding of an outdated home on the identical property and located honeycombs constructed in opposition to the wallboard surrounded by about 10,000 swarming bees.
He and his good friend Alfred Friedle, one other beekeeper, gently puffed smoke on the hive to make the bees confused and a bit extra docile. They pulled the honeycombs off the wallboard and threw them right into a bucket to take again to Agar’s hives to feed his bees.
Agar stated he doesn’t promote honey from wild hives as a result of he doesn’t know whether or not somebody has sprayed them with pesticide.
After he removes a wild hive, he often replaces the feral queen with a domesticated queen so the brand new hive he builds produces gentler bees, he stated.
The bees that he vacuumed right into a small tank from the farm tools and the wallboard weren’t Africanzed bees. Africanized bees seem like different honeybees however are recognized for his or her aggressive conduct.
Agar stated he knew the bees he eliminated weren’t Africanized as a result of despite the fact that he was stung as soon as, the bees didn’t proceed to assault him.
“I’ve been adopted for a mile in my automobile by Africanized bees,” he stated.
If somebody is attacked by Africanized bees, the perfect factor to do is to run indoors or get inside a automobile as a result of the sting will proceed to draw extra bees, he stated.
Agar stated he has been stung a number of occasions, however that doesn’t deter him despite the fact that he’s mildly allergic to bees. “I get hungry to open up a hive,” he stated.
The demand for bee removing has been nonstop this summer season, stated Agar, who has been a beekeeper for seven years and had earlier careers as a newspaper reporter and journey author. His enterprise known as Charlie Bee Co.
Agar stated he acquired 5 calls in at some point for assist and has his calendar booked for weeks. The most typical place to search out beehives is within the eaves of houses and inside water meter containers, he stated.
Considered one of his most difficult removals occurred when he opened up a ceiling and honey poured down on his protecting swimsuit, he stated. He needed to comply with the bees that had escaped to an attic, the place it was 110 levels, he stated. By the point he emerged, he had insulation from the attic caught to the honey on his swimsuit.
“The home-owner laughed and stated, ‘Are you certain I nonetheless owe you solely $300?’” he stated.
The way to plant a bee-friendly backyard: The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension web site gives suggestions at bit.ly/3h1ndjT. A few of these suggestions embody planting morning glory, prairie verbena and sunflowers within the fall.
The way to deal with a bee sting: Take away the stinger by scraping it together with your fingernail or a bank card (not tweezers, which might trigger venom to unfold), wash the realm, apply a chilly pack and take over-the-counter ache drugs as wanted. Go to an emergency room if indicators of an allergic response seem, together with nausea, hives and dizziness.