Couple wants answers after thousands of bees swarm Mid-South home

By Justin Hanson - bio | email

RIPLEY, TN (WMC-TV) - Ripley residents John and Rhonda Elder say their home is anything but sweet these days, and they've had it with some unwanted guests.

"It could be thousands of them," John said. "There's no telling how big the honeycomb is, and stuff in there with them.  They moved in about a year ago and they come and go as they please."

Honey bees have over-taken the Elders' home.

"They're a nuisance and they really don't like him," Rhonda said. "They haven't stung me yet, but they've gotten him several times."

The house has been in the Elder family for fifty years.  Rhonda's parents plan to move into the house before long, and they want to do something about the problem before it is too late.

"I'm afraid for my parents," Rhonda said. "They'll be coming in from the grocery store and they will just attack them."

The Elders don't want to kill the bees, but they want to be safe in their home.  Unfortunately, they haven't figured out how to accomplish both things.

"One man said something about killing the queen, and then putting a hive on top and letting the other bees rob the nest, and another man said he could tear it down but couldn't fix what he tore up," John said.

"I'm willing to donate the bees to anybody who can get them out without tearing my house down, and put it back in place when they get finished,"Ronda added.

But that may be easier said than done.  Mid-South bee keeper Bob Whitworth says whoever tears the wall down to help save the bees more than likely won't put it back.  Therefore, he said, the only real answer is to kill the bees.

Whitworth says there could be as many as 60,000 bees and up to 100 pounds of honey inside the Elder home.  He believes it would cost about $75,000 to buy three pounds of bees and a mated queen.  But that might not be enough to rebuild damage caused by removing them from the Elders' home.

"Not financially sound - it won't pencil out," he said.

"They're not hurting anybody and they're good for the ecology," Rhonda said. "I prefer to leave them intact if at all possible."

To bee or not to bee - one couple's home sweet home may stay a honeycomb hideout unless someone buzzes in to help.

"I would like to get them out of here by somebody who claims he can get them outta here without tearing the place up,"John said.

Beekeepers here in the Mid-South have a web site devoted to their hobby.  To find out more, click here.

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