Nearly 30,000 bees were removed from the Swanson Arch at Idaho State University last Friday.
The removal, which took nearly four hours to complete, was done by Sarah Hofeldt, a member of the fitness department at ISU, and her husband Nick.
Hofeldt, outside of teaching aerobics, is also a beekeeper. She said she got interested several years ago when her uncle brought her some honey from his hive.
“It’s the difference between eating a tomato out of the store versus one out of your garden,” she said. “The difference, it just blows your mind.”
For the past several years, Hofeldt has been learning about the ups and downs of beekeeping, learning the hard way at first.
“My first year, I purchased two hives and lost both of them throughout the winter,” she said.
She tried again the next year, this time with four hives, and has built on it since.
Currently, the Hofeldt’s have more than 150,000 bees in three hives in their backyard in Chubbuck. They also maintain an additional seven hives on another property south of town.
They recently added nearly 30,000 more. Yes, the same bees that had taken residence in the arch are now part of Hofeldt’s hive.
Sarah said that nearly every single removed made it to her home.
“If I had to guess,” Sarah said, “we probably left maybe 100 bees behind. Probably less than that.”
A pretty good haul considering that a normal package of a few thousand bees costs around $130.
But Hofeldt said she almost decided not to check out the situation when she first got the call. Occupied with the bees she already had, she thought the removal was beyond her abilities.
“As a hunch, I just went over there and checked it out and … I still left thinking I’m not gonna get these bees.”
Somehow, Sarah and Nick decided to make it happen and, with the help of ISU, workers were able to safely remove the bees.
Now, Hofeldt hopes others see her story and think before exterminating bees.
“Any beekeeper can come and remove bees,” she said. “You know, it’s easy to spray ’em, kill ’em, be done with ’em.”
Hofeldt plans to keep growing her colony, selling the honey to keep the expensive hobby possible.