By Jim Hagerty
When a queen bee flees a hive for another, thousands of workers and drones follow.
That’s what happened downtown Rockford Thursday, June 5, prompting City of Rockford employees to call Phillip Raines to take care of the more than 20,000 bees that made their way from the old Superior Block building to a tree outside City Hall.
“When the queen leaves a hive, the rest follow to start another hive,” Raines, who owns Raines Honey Farm in Davis, Ill.
When Raines arrived, thousands of bees had formed a solid mass on a tree branch, a scene ripe for him to remove nearly every one, something he’s done hundreds of times.
To capture the colony and remove it from the area, Raines located the queen, then held framed honeycombs in the tree. Within the half-hour, about 20,000 bees flocked to the frames. Each frame was then placed in a wooden hive built especially for such occasions.
Raines said the bees would likely have built another hive in or on another nearby building. And, with all of the open windows on buildings under construction near City Hall, workers may have been in for a not-so-pleasant experience.
“Honey bees will sting,” Raines said. “But perception is different from reality. In reality, they usually only sting when they are protecting their hive.”
It is common for people to destroy hives and bees, especially those found near buildings and walkways. Humans, however, are much better off if they call someone like Raines, who says saving bees not only helps the species, but is vital to the survival of people.
“Save the bees,” he said. “Without them, we would only have enough food for about four years. We can’t live on wheat and corn alone.”
Raines Honey Farm is at 16566 Best Road, Davis. Its product line includes raw honey, candles, soaps, balms, lotions and oils. More information is at the farm’s Facebook page and (815) 248-3321.