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Bees evicted, rehomed

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

The demolition process of a condemned Peru home lead to the salvation of three honeybee colonies.

The home, located at 86 East Franklin St., has been a problem for decades, according to Peru Building Department Administrative Assistant Brenda Douglass.

Over the years, the building has fallen into such disrepair that Peru Building Commissioner Jerry Santen deemed the residence unsafe and brought the issue before the Board of Building Appeals and requested they condemn the property.

The Board of Building Appeals granted the request and demolition of the building is slated to begin within the next month, according to Douglass.

While inspecting the building, Caudill Services Contractor Paul Caudill found a much larger issue with the residence aside from its unsound structure; an issue that has had neighbors buzzing with complaints for the past several years.

“We know there’s been complaints over the last three years about bees,” Douglass said.

The vacant home was covered in honeybees, according to Douglass. The bees made several hives within the walls and had been living there for a long time.

“It’s an easy target for anything to move into,” Caudill said. “It made an easy home for them to find.”

Douglass and Caudill knew they couldn’t leave the honeybees there to be demolished along with the rest of the building.

“We realize how important the bees are and they’ve been there for at least a decade, if not two decades,” Douglass said.

In response, Caudill was able to get in touch with beekeeper Craig Riffe of Rensselaer, who was able to safely extricate the honeybees and take them back to his farm.

Riffe lives on an 11acre farm with 20-25 bee colonies flourishing on his land. This is his third year as a beekeeper and he makes sure the bees have everything they need when they need it.

“I have an abundance of stuff I plant just for the bees,” Riffe said.

According to Caudill, there were four hives altogether with two hives being about five to six feet tall, along with an estimated 120 pounds of honey extricated from the building.

Riffe was able to cut the walls of the residence open to make removal of the bees that much easier.

While inside, Riffe found that one hive was dying because it no longer had a queen and was able to successfully redistribute the bees through the other colonies.

Riffe was able to save three colonies with more than 60,000 bees in each.

Rehoming the honeybees was an important issue that Caudill and Douglass knew needed to be addressed right away.

“Honeybees are actually close to or on the extinction list,” Caudill said. “We don’t want to lose the honeybees.”

“It’s exciting to know that all of these bees are going to be in hives and taken care of,” Douglass said.

Caudill encourages anyone who knows where honeybees might be located not to kill them.

“Save them,” Caudill said.

According to Caudill, honeybees are docile for the most part and only sting when they feel threatened. He also said they’re only a nuisance when individuals start to mess with them.

The honeybees were extracted from the residence Sunday and, according to Riffe, it went very well. He was pleased that he was able to reestablish the hives on his property.

“We need the bees,” Riffe said. “I’m all for saving them all of the time, every time.”