On the brown metal roof, a swarm of bees blanketed a small section near one of the roof ridges covering the intersection of two pieces of the tin. The bees covered the roof so thickly that their movements looked like ripples on the surface of water.
“You know what I thought when I saw the bees?” asked her mother, Letha Wright. “I thought killer bees.”
Conley did, too, she said.
But no, Jeff Kyner, president of the Northeast Alabama Beekeepers Association, said the bees were honeybees probably looking for a home. They’re not dangerous and won’t bother people unless the people bother them, he said.
He and his brother Mike Kyner, who raise honeybees in approximately 19 hives on their property, answered a call Thursday morning to pick up the bees.
The brothers weren’t surprised by the call — this is the time of year when small swarms start looking for places to set up new hives, Jeff Kyner said.
In January and February, the queen bees start laying eggs to repopulate their hives, Kyner said. When all the eggs hatch, the hive can become too crowded, and when that happens, the bees start building a queen cell, he said.
“It takes 14, 15 days for a queen to develop,” Kyner said. “In that 15 days, the old queen and half the hive will leave and that’s what’s swarming.”
A few days before the bees are ready to move, scouts fly off in search of a suitable place to build the new hive. When they find a place, the scouts return to the old hive and lead the swarm to the new site. They can fly up to five miles from the old hive, Kyner said.
Sometimes, people’s homes garner the bees’ attention. That’s why this isn’t the first call Kyner has received this spring — this weekend, he and his brother will be cutting into a house in the Golden Springs area to collect bees that have built a hive in its walls — and it probably won’t be the last.
“They ought to start coming quite regular,” he said.
He ought to know, he’s been doing this for about four years now.
The problem is, when people see a swarm of bees settle on their house, like Conley, they don’t know what to do. Her first thought was to run … and she did. Her second thought was to call 911 … which she also did.
But the best thing to do is to call the Calhoun County Extension Office, Kyner said. They have a list of all the beekeepers in the area and will start calling them until they find one who can come out and collect the bees. It was through a call to the extension office that Kyner heard about this hive of bees. Even as he and his brother discussed how best to capture the bees on the roof, Jack Chapman, a beekeeper from Weaver, drove up and parked his truck, with a green box hive loaded in the truck bed. Chapman left after he saw the two brothers had things under control.
Kyner assembled his tools in Wright’s yard: an industrial-quality vacuum cleaner, an extra long hose and a wooden box with two connections for the hose. Inside the box was a wooden and screen cage. He attached the extra long hose to one connection and the vacuum cleaner, then the shorter hose with a wand to aim the suction to the other connection.
Then he hiked the assembly up the ladder to the roof of Wright’s house where his brother stood waiting.
When he returned to the ground, he turned on the vacuum.
Mike Kyner sucked up the bees, but said most of them had gone and there was no queen bee.
Without the queen, Kyner said with disappointment, the bees probably wouldn’t stay in the hive he had brought to put them in after they were captured. If they had gotten there within 30 minutes or so of the bees’ arrival, Kyner said, they could have just scooped them into the hive.
Once the queen was put in the hive, the others would stay with her.
From the sidewalk in front of the house, Wright and Conley and a group of neighbors assembled to watch the brothers corral the bees.
“Do you think they went in the attic?” Wright asked them, still worried about an invasion.
Mike Kyner assured her the bees would have flown out to investigate when he started making all the noise with the vacuum. He had already taken the roof ridge off and checked under the tin.
He thought the bees had gone on to build a hive elsewhere. But to assure the two women, Kyner walked all around the yard while his brother checked the rest of the roof. The bees had moved on.
The Calhoun County Extension Office can be reached at 256-237-1621.
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.