It’s swarming season for bugs in Georgia, but the Noonburg family of Richmond Hill recently took care of a rather unique kind of insect problem.
Dr. Greer Noonburg’s Buckhead home had a honeybee infestation.
"We knew they were honeybees and that they’re endangered, so we wanted to save them," Mrs. Noonburg said.
The family noticed the bees in the balcony above their front door about a year ago, which started becoming a problem after some stings were sustained. But finding a company who would save the bees, rather than exterminating them, was harder than they anticipated. Noonburg said she called around for a long time before the Savannah Bee Company recommended Andrei Miclaus.
On Thursday, March 13, Miclaus arrived at the Noonburg home to save the bees.
"This is probably the third largest hive I’ve ever seen in a home," said the part-time beekeeper, who also works full-time in construction.
Miclaus has been a beekeeper by both hobby and profession for about six years. A resident of Springfield, he originally came to the country 10 years ago from Romania.
"I started out doing this because I liked it, it was really just a hobby," he said. "But I started getting more and more calls from people who had bee problems, asking if I could help remove the bees and save them."
Miclaus said he always tries to do a bee removal starting early in the day, when the weather is cooler and the bees are calmer.
"The bees can sense fear and I’m not afraid of them – I haven’t been stung once today," he said after working for about four hours. "I used to swell up after a couple bites but now I can be stung up to 20 times without it bothering me."
He started by taking apart the balcony over the home’s front porch, revealing a hive of around 15,000 honeybees. Miclaus said he smoked out the bees and ‘vacuumed’ them into his man-made hive for transport.
Miclaus said the full removal took all day, but went well.
"I took the bees home, put them in the hive and started to feed them," he said, noting they were released into his back yard Monday. "They will make some honey this year and hopefully next year they will be ready to go to California for the almond pollination."
Honeybees pollinate a large variety of plants and have been used for commercial pollination of around 100 crops. According to Wikipedia.org, the value of these pollination services is measured in the billions of dollars.
"Our food depends on the bees," Miclaus said. "They do most of the pollination; everything is tied together through them."
According to the California Farm Bureau, roughly 1 million honeybee colonies are necessary to pollinate California’s almond acreage. Because so many colonies are needed, more than half of the bees must be brought in from out of state.
"The state’s $1.189 billion almond crop is entirely dependent on honeybee pollination and growers are responsible for more than half the world’s almond production," the Bureau’s web site said, noting other honeybee pollination-dependent crops include apples, avocados, cherries, cucumbers, melons and sunflowers.
There has been a decline of honey bees, particularly in the last couple of years – which Miclaus is working to help reverse with his beekeeping. Factors that attribute to the decline include pesticide misuse, mites and disease, urban and suburban development, clear-cut logging and even the human paranoia of stinging insects.
To find out more, Miclaus can be reached at 754-1328 or 678-534-2717.