The first day of work Monday on the old Dearing gym renovation was abuzz with activity - literally. Carpenters with the John W. Spratlin and Son Company were using sledge hammers to remove the windows of the building when the noise of swarming bees caught their attention.
Fortunately, no one was stung. Dearing Mayor Sean Kelley called his pest control company and asked them to recommend a beekeeper.
"There's a ton in here," Beekeeper Nathaniel Addison said after he removed several boards from the wall. "There's several old hives, so they've been coming and going for a couple of years, at least."
Mr. Addison praised Mayor Kelley for not exterminating the bees. Although he normally charges a small fee for bee removal, Mr. Addison said he was donating his services to the Town of Dearing "because I need (the bees) so badly."
Using cool smoke to calm the bees, Mr. Addison transferred their hive into a box for transport to his home in Augusta, where he said he has several colonies. The process took about one and one-half hour and served as the afternoon entertainment for the mayor, his family and the carpenters.
Mr. Addison said all he had to do was put the honey in the box, and the bees would follow it. He said the hive was about average in size, but very healthy. He usually finds parasites in hives of that size. The only "parasites" Mr. Addison had to deal with in Dearing were the men in his audience, who stuck their fingers in the honey every time the beekeeper turned his back.
"That's really good stuff. I guess all those bat (droppings) is what's made it so good," Mayor Kelley joked, referring to 2004, when the gym was temporarily closed due to an infestation of bats. "I can see why the bees get so mad, because that stuff really is good."
Although he was stung about five times, and had to remove his bee suit because one stray bee got inside, Mr. Addison said the bees really didn't get aggressive.
"These were pretty friendly for feral bees," he said.