50,000 honeybees create a huge buzz on McNeil Street in Stephenville

Beekeeper Dan Ranca to the rescue

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Stephenville area beekeeper Dan Ranca gently smokes honeybees after an emergency call for help Sunday morning. || The Flash Today photo by Russell Huffman

BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Flash Today

That last drop of honey was just too much and the large crashing sound reported in the 1000 block  McNeil Street in Stephenville Sunday morning was followed by the loud drone of an estimated 50,000 angry honeybees.

Property owners Jane and Richard McDonald were alerted a large branch had broken off an oak tree on one of their rental properties and the entire neighborhood was “abuzz” about it. The presence of 50,000 angry bees is no laughing matter and the Stephenville Police Department took the matter seriously. They taped off the area to prevent residents from getting too close.

Honeybees swarm over their honeycomb prior to smoke being applied to calm them down.
Honeybees swarm over their honeycomb prior to smoke being applied to calm them down.
After the calming effect of being smoked the honeybees expose the layers and layers of honeycomb under their feet.
After the calming effect of being smoked, the honeybees expose the layers and layers of honeycomb under their feet.

One person getting right into the middle of the action was Stephenville area beekeeper Dani Ranca who was summoned to take care of the problem. Ranca said he has 25 beehives of his own and the hive on McNeil was about to become number 26; however, collecting up 50,000 angry honeybees isn’t very easy.

Ranca donned his beekeeping suit complete with netted helmet and began smoking the bees. At first the bees’ drone gets louder but as the smoking begins to take hold, the bees all begin to calm down.

As Ranca explained how he would be boxing up the bees and moving them without harm he gently puffs out a stream of smoke. The volume of the bees’ buzzing increases tenfold and they move out of the way to expose the layer upon layer of honeycomb they were protecting.

Strephenville area beekeeper Dan Ranca had his hands full with 50,000 honeybees needing removal to a new home.
Stephenville area beekeeper Dan Ranca had his hands full with 50,000 honeybees needing removal to a new home.

“They are very calm right now and you want them this way so they can be moved into the box,” Ranca explained.

Capturing the queen honeybee unharmed is crucial to the survival of the entire hive as is moving a large portion of the broken limb which contains their honey. This late in the year it could be too late for the bees to recollect enough honey to survive the winter.

Ranca laughed when asked if rescuing honeybees and helping out property owners was his full-time job.

“I do small construction projects and keeping bees is something I do as a sideline,” Ranca said. “There are not enough calls to make this a full-time job.”

Some bee calls are more difficult than other others because, unlike the honeybees on McNeil Street, there are more aggressive strains of bees such as Africanized and German bees. Ranca explained lighter-colored bees generally are less aggressive and dark-colored bees are ones of which to be very cautious as they quickly become highly agitated.

While he may be a part-time beekeeper, Ranca would be glad to take a reader’s call if they are in need of assistance with bee problems at 254-485-2526.

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Dan Ranca is removing this large section of tree limb with the honeybees’ labor intact as he moves them to their new home unharmed.
The Stephenville Police Department taped off the area to help prevent accidental honeybee stings.
The Stephenville Police Department taped off the area to help prevent accidental honeybee stings.

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