When Carol Stewart and her husband noticed that dozens of honey bees have been constantly lurking around their house in Kitchener, Ontario for more than a year since they moved in, they sensed something was not right.
At first, they thought the bees were from some nearby hive. That is only until last summer when the Stewarts began to feel uneasy with a handful of bees they saw disappearing into the rain gutter of their 85-year-old home. The couple then decided it was time to have these unwanted housemates move out.
The matriarch initially sought the help of exterminators but she was turned down because killing the bees may strip off their license. Honey bees are critically protected due to a drastic decline in their population, especially when a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder wiped out millions of honeybee colonies in the North America and Europe in 2007.
Next, she asked the help of some Toronto bee keepers and the apiary at the University of Guelph. They were not interested.
Desperate to get rid of the bees, Stewart called up David Schuit, a full-time beekeeper that she had read about in a paper one time and pleaded her case.
Finally, Schuit gave in. Arriving at the Stewarts' home with his son and daughter, Schuit began by pressing his ear onto the wall. "I can hear them," he said. Shortly, they were tearing down the interior wood wall of a spare bedroom in her house.
Stewart could almost not believe her eyes. Big chunks of honeycombs were neatly clustered between the wood and the outer brick walls and large swarms of bees were inside. Some of the honeycombs were already oozing with honey. Schuit estimated roughly 40,000 to 50,000 of honey bees were living with the Stewarts under the same roof.
"I'm shocked. I'm shocked that there were that many bees in there," said Stewart in an interview with CTV News Kitchener. "There were thousands of bees. Unbelievable that they have been in your house for this long and you not being aware. No sound, no nothing."
Schuit said the bees could have entered a small crevasse in the eavestrough and made a home up in the rafters and behind the drywall. The colony was reaching its full size and if the Stewarts waited for a few more months before checking on what was going on in their house, they could have been greeted by over 90,000 honey bees.