Feral bees removed from Washington City home

WASHINGTON CITY – An agitated hive of feral bees in a Washington City home’s attic drew out firefighters and the Washington County Bee Inspector Tuesday.

Just before 6 p.m., an exterminator contracted to remove the bees that had built a hive in the roof of a home on Arrowhead Way called 911. Some of the bees swarming around him got into his suit and stung him and he began to have a mild allergic reaction, Washington City firefighter Julio Reyes said.

Both Washington City Fire and Gold Cross Ambulance responded to the incident with the man who had been stung getting treated at the scene before being taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center by a friend.

Washington County Bee Inspector Casey Lofthouse helps remove a large hive of feral bees that was built underneath the roof of a Washington City home, Washington City, Utah, March 27, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Read more: Bee season: Balls of bees in trees, swarms; what you need to know


The trio of Washington City firefighters who arrived at the home on Arrowhead Way went to inspect the hive – and quickly withdrew across the street.

“They were ultra-aggressive,” Reyes said of the bees, adding the firefighters hadn’t encountered bees that angry before.

At that point, the firefighters called Casey Lofthouse, the county bee inspector and a professional beekeeper, for help.

Lofthouse said a likely reason why the bees were agitated and swarming around their hive was because they had been disturbed and the hive had been ripped out.

“The longer the hive is open, the more agitated they get,” he said, adding the hive under the roof top was pretty big and well established.

Despite the fact they were responding to having their home invaded and taken apart, the feral bees were were rather “docile,” Lofthouse said.


Read more: Over 1,000 aggressive bees swarm baseball field; 1 man sent to hospital


Lofthouse spent about an hour on the roof removing batches of honeycomb from the exposed rooftop. While doing so he sprayed the bees with a solution of water and dish soap that renders them unable to fly.

Washington County Bee Inspector Casey Lofthouse helps remove a large hive of feral bees that was built underneath the roof of a Washington City home, Washington City, Utah, March 27, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On a larger scale, that is one of the reasons why firefighters tend to get sent to emergency calls involving swarming bees, Reyes said, as the firefighters can hose down aggressive swarms with water and foam if necessary.

Reyes estimated the Fire Department gets called out to bee incidents around 10-12 times a year.

While there have been cases of by Africanized bee attacks in Washington County, Lofthouse said, he didn’t believes the feral bees he removed were among them. If they had been, they would have been much more aggressive.

The only way to tell for certain if a there has been an attack by Africanized bees is by sending one to the state for DNA testing.

The primary problem with feral bees is that they can build a hive you don’t know about until its disturbed and a swarm is released, Lofthouse said.

The swarm eventually died down as the sun set and Lofthouse cleared out the last of the hive and dumped the bees and honeycombs into several garbage bags he dropped in the back of his truck. Occasional buzzing from the bees could still be heard as he spoke to St. George News.

As a feral hive removal can cost a homeowner hundreds of dollars, Lofthouse recommends visiting the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food website for tips on how to bee-proof your home.

The following tips are among those offering on how to keep your home bee-free.

Washington County Bee Inspector Casey Lofthouse helps remove a large hive of feral bees that was built underneath the roof of a Washington City home, Washington City, Utah, March 27, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

To prevent honey bees from settling in your house or yard, you will need to prohibit access to potential nesting sites in the following ways:

  • Caulk cracks in walls, in the foundation and in the roof.
  • Fill or cover all holes 1/8-inch in diameter or larger in trees, structures and/or block walls.
  • Check where the chimney meets the house for separation and make sure chimneys are covered properly.
  • Put small-mesh screen (such as window screen) over attic vents, irrigation valve boxes and water meter box keyholes.
  • Remove any trash or debris that might serve as a shelter for honey bees.
  • Fill or cover animal burrows in the ground.
  • Make sure window and sun screens are tight fitting.
  • Keep shed doors tightly closed and in good repair and exercise caution when entering buildings that are not used frequently.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • aaron March 27, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    I sure do hope that he let the bees loose back in the desert, and such after he was finished. It would be a real waste of bees. Since the issue with the collapsed bee colonies.

    • Sparky March 28, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      If they are a large % africanized, then they will more than likely be destroyed, but if they are mild they will probably be placed in an artificial hive, and sold or kept buy someone for honey.

      • Bender March 28, 2018 at 9:27 pm

        My understanding is that the resident queen can be killed in the colony and a European queen introduced in her place. This will gradually move the population back to a more docile genetic mix.

  • LunchboxHero March 28, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Bees are so interesting. And I didn’t know that African bees were a more aggressive breed.

  • comments March 28, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Any reason not to just leave them alone other than the danger of getting stung? Do they damage the house? Can they even tolerate summer temps that would occur in attic spaces in this area, or would they clear out when it gets too hot?

    • Sparky March 28, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      They can handle the heat just fine, and they can do lots of damage to houses. looking at the pictures that is a substantial hive, would be scary to have around your kids, let alone in your house. The main problem would be them finally figuring out a way into your house and getting panicked when they think you are invading their space. All bees in north america have a strain of africanized in them, whether its the aggressive or the hard working, you’d rather not find out.

      • comments March 28, 2018 at 6:38 pm

        I can see how the hives could gum stuff up and make a mess, but can they actually do structural damage? Just seems, of all things to be infested with, that honey bees wouldn’t be all that bad? –assuming they don’t get into the living space.

        • Bender March 28, 2018 at 9:30 pm

          Dude, your European ancestors kicked the pigs and chickens out of their homes into the barn. You’re regressing here. Bees in the hives and peoples in the houses.

          • comments March 28, 2018 at 11:32 pm

            haha

            as a child I ate lots of honey. I remember it being the most delicious thing ever. This was raw honey we’d get directly from the bee keeper in gallon buckets. I believe bees to be wonderful creatures.

          • Sparky March 29, 2018 at 1:57 pm

            … Nice
            Ed. ellipsis

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