SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — It was the biggest beehive that that Ogden beekeeper Vic Bachman has ever removed — a dozen feet long, packed inside the eaves of a cabin in Ogden Valley.
"We figure we got 15 pounds of bees out of there," said Bachman, who said that converts to about 60,000 honeybees.
Bachman was called to the A-frame cabin last month in Eden, Utah. Taking apart a panel that hid roof rafters, he had no idea he would find honeycombs packed 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and 16 inches deep.
The honeybees had been making the enclosed cavity their home since 1996, hardly bothering the homeowners. The cabin was rarely used, but when the owners needed to occupy it while building another home nearby, they decided the beehive wasn't safe for their two children. A few bees had found their way inside the house, and the hive was just outside a window of a children's bedroom.
They didn't want to kill the honeybees, a species in decline that does yeoman's work pollinating flowers and crops.
So they called Bachman, owner of Deseret Hive Supply, a hobbyist store that can't keep up with demand for honeybees. Bachman used a vacuum cleaner to suck the bees into a cage.
"It doesn't hurt them," he said.
The job took six hours. At $100 an hour, the bill came to $600.
"The bees were expensive," said Paul Bertagnolli, the cabin owner. He was satisfied with the job.
Utah calls itself the Beehive state, a symbol of industriousness. Whether this was Utah's largest beehive is unknown, but Bachman said it would rank high.
"It's the biggest one I've ever seen," he said. "I've never seen one that big."
He used smoke to pacify the bees, but Bachman said honeybees are gentle creatures unlike predatory yellow jackets or hornets, which attack, rip apart and eat honeybees, he said.
"They just want to collect nectar and come back to the hive," he said. "Most people never get stung by honeybees — it's a yellow jacket."
Bachman reassembled the hive in a yard of his North Ogden home, while saving some of the honeycomb for candles and lotions at his store. He left other honeycombs for the cabin owners to chew on.
"We caught the queen and were able to keep her," Bachman said. "The hive is in my backyard right now and is doing well."