Montco bee hives are now history

Posted: June 06, 2012

Being a good neighbor sometimes means having to get rid of your bees.

That’s what happened over Memorial Day weekend when Plymouth Township police officers responded to a Sandwood Road home where two bee hives were added late in March, much to the consternation of neighbors.

A mass of bees two feet wide and three feet long left hive and home on Saturday May 26th and swarmed in a pine tree next door.

Their queen had died, and the swarm took off in search of new digs, said Police Chief Joseph F. Lawrence. This is normal bee behavior, but it unnerved the neighbor in whose pine tree the swarm was buzzing. The neighbor called police.

Four squad cars arrived, but what to do? "It almost looked like it was snowing bees," said neighbor Trish McArthur. (Severely allergic to stings, she had raised the alarm in March when the hives first appeared.)

First-time beekeepers Kevin and Colleen Shaffer were away for the holiday. Patrol officers aren’t qualified to handle bees, so the Shaffers, accompanied by a master beekeeper, were persuaded to return home and confront the situation. Lawrence said the beekeeper contained the swarm and removed it from the tree.

Officials did not order the Shaffers to remove the hives, the chief said. "They did, however, after the bees were gathered up, voluntarily take the bees to a different location outside the township."

The hives are history, but the buzz continues; township officials, beekeepers, and neighbors on Sandwood Road are meeting to draft an ordinance setting terms for beekeeping in Plymouth.

No legal action was taken against the Shaffers, and none is expected against any other current beekeeper in the township, Lawrence said.

McArthur hopes the town council will rule against keeping bees on properties less than an acre — or two. She’s glad the swarm landed safely — elsewhere.

"Thank goodness nobody got stung," she said.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com. Read her blog MontCo Memo at www.philly.com.

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