A community of several thousand inhabitants facing disaster was successfully relocated to a more promising home by Silicon Valley Power, the city of Santa Clara, California’s municipal electric utility.
Housed in a streetlight pole near Mission College, the colony of European honey bees was in the way of a planned streetlight upgrade. Contacted by the field crew, SVP Division Manager Dave Padilla had no time to waste and had his crew buzz local bee extraction expert Art Hall. At the site, Hall determined that it was best to immediately remove the streetlight, bees and all, and relocate it to a work area in order to more safely extract the bees.
SVP Crew Foreman Mark Guerrero and his team lifted the pole off of its base and Hall added some smoke to the inside of the pole, taking the sting out of the process by calming the bees. The opening was covered with a bag, and the crews placed the pole on a truck that transported it to the SVP construction yard.
All 40,000 bees are in the process of moving to a standard beehive box and they will live out their lives at the Santa Clara 4-H Ranch, where SVP Principal Estimator and private beekeeper Lenny Buttitta is in charge of the volunteer beekeeping program.
“European honey bees are currently threatened with extinction due to Colony Collapse Disorder,” said Buttitta, who was initially contacted by the field crew but does not have bee extraction equipment. “Forty-two percent of U.S. honey bee colonies died off last year. We need to do everything that we can to save as many of the bees as possible, since a third of all the food we eat is a direct result of honey bee pollination.”