September 23, 2022

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A Cape Breton woman who recently found thousands of bees buzzing behind the walls of her home says she’s delighted they’ve found a new home with a local business struggling to rebuild after some winter misfortune. 

“I’m just glad they were able to use it and many others in the community will be able to use it as well,” said Charlene MacEachern after the bees were safely removed.

MacEachern said no one had lived in her family’s farmhouse for years. The old property sits on the backside of Gillis Mountain in Broad Cove. 

Earlier this month, MacEachern discovered a large colony of bees living in the wall of the homestead. She contacted a local apiary, and they removed a large section of the wall — along with 80,000 bees.

Local beekeepers jumped at the chance

Lyndsay deBont owns Screen Door Apiary & Farm located in Skye Glenn. She and her husband learned about the colony when MacEachern posted in a local Facebook group looking for help removing it. deBont said they jumped at the chance.

Lyndsay deBont helped remove the hive. She said her business lost more than 100,000 bees this winter due to mites. (Contributed)

“Some of the comb was quite dark, which means it’s been there for a while,” said deBont. “The bees have been walking over it and then you could see some comb that was very light and was brand new this year so they had been there for a while and they had completely filled the space they were in.”

She and her husband spent a full day pulling the hive out from the studs of the farmhouse. Although they are relatively new to beekeeping, they were excited about the opportunity especially after a tough winter of beekeeping.

deBont gifted a jar of the Broad Cove honey to MacEachern. Both were happy to see the bees safely relocated. (Contributed )

deBont said the couple had Varroa mites in their hives last year. The mites live on the backs of bees and feed off them.

“It was a bigger issue than we had realized, so through the winter we lost all our hives,” she said.

deBont said she lost eight hives and more than 100,000 bees to the mites. 

She said getting a mature, healthy hive from MacEachern’s property will go a long way for her business. 

MacEachern said deBont gave her family a jar of honey and some honeycomb. She’s happy to have helped out a local business.

“It’s the Cape Breton way of doing things,” MacEachern said. 

It wouldn’t have happened without the bear

The whole episode might never have happened without the intervention of a hungry bear.

MacEachern said she discovered the hive because she was examining damaged shingles and claw marks in the siding of the house where a bear tried to get in.

As she looked at pictures, MacEachern saw what had drawn the bear’s attention.

“I zoomed in and I noticed that it was actually honeycomb that was in between the boards,” she said. “So that was a really big surprise for us.”

A bear trying to get at the honey alerted MacEachern to the existence of the hive in the walls. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

MacEachern said it doesn’t appear the bear was successful in its quest for honey.

“The bear was probably just being stung too much and just tried to get into an alternate way into the house,” she said.

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