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DailyTidings.com
  • Doing business with bees

    Vintage shop co-exists with hive
  • Customers who walk into Revive Home Decor in Ashland to browse for vintage items often cross paths with honey bees coming and going from a hole in the shop's wall.
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  • Customers who walk into Revive Home Decor in Ashland to browse for vintage items often cross paths with honey bees coming and going from a hole in the shop's wall.
    The bee colony has lived in the building for at least seven years, and business owner Stacy Shelley, who moved into the space in 2010, has learned to coexist with them.
    "We don't want to harm them. As a shop owner, as long as they're not stinging people coming into the shop, it's fine," Shelley said.
    Beekeepers have estimated there may be as many as 200,000 bees in the colony — so many that Shelley can put her hand up against the wall and tell where the bees are because of the heat they generate.
    The bees enter and exit through a hole in the outer wall of the building. A decorative, metal, "Bee Crossing" sign outside alerts customers to the insects.
    For the most part, the bees stay outside and rarely enter Revive Home Decor, even though the front door and a garage door into the shop are often open.
    The vintage shop at 264 Fourth St. is in the historic Haskins Garage building. It still sports an antique Texaco gas pump outside on the sidewalk.
    While doing business alongside the bee colony has been largely uneventful, the bees did create a commotion last spring.
    When temperatures rise each spring, thousands of bees normally split off from the home colony and fly away in a swarm to create a new colony, leaving behind thousands of their hive-mates.
    This year, a swarm emerged but failed to fly away for days on end.
    The sight of swarming bees frightened some people, while attracting others who came to see the spectacle.
    Shelly said a few of her customers were stung, along with outdoor diners across the street at Peerless Restaurant & Bar. Some people walking down an alley on the side of the building also were stung.
    Darlene Beckett, who owns the Haskins Garage building along with her neighboring business, Deluxe Awning Company, turned to beekeepers with Medford-based Little Heathen Honey for help.
    The honey business has a hotline for people to call when bees swarm. Its beekeepers will capture and relocate bees.
    The plan was to capture the colony and move it to Hanley Farm outside Jacksonville.
    Although Little Heathen Honey was able to gently vacuum up about 40,000 bees and move them to the farm, the queen of the colony was so deeply embedded in the wall that she couldn't be found and moved, Shelley said.
    The wall is made of hollow concrete blocks, and digging out the queen would destroy the wall, she said.
    Beckett said the remaining members of the colony will be allowed to stay in the wall. She has no plans to exterminate the insects.
    "We're opposed to killing them," Beckett said. "Honey bees are definitely a species at risk at the moment. We would be happy to move them, but they're stubborn. They're happy to be there."
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