Woman Finds 450,000 Bees Living Inside the Walls of Her House

When Sara Weaver and her husband bought their house this past December, they didn't realize they were also purchasing a colony of nearly a half-million bees. The multi-day removal process was spearheaded by general contractor and beekeeper Allan Lattanzi, who spoke to Newsweek about his beekeeping career.

Weaver and her husband bought the Skippack, Pennsylvania farmhouse because it was in their price range and was inside their ideal school district. At the time, the seller mentioned the house, built in 1872, had bees in the walls, which they initially brushed off.

"On the seller's disclosure it said 'bees in wall' and that was it and I think because one, we didn't see them and two, we were just so floored that we actually found land in the (school) district that was within our price range that I didn't really ask any questions about those bees," Weaver told CNN. "I didn't think it would be that big of an issue."

It was, in fact, an issue. Upon discovering the bees, Weaver hired Lattanzi to handle the removal. And, as it turned out, it was not his first time visiting the 19th century home. The house's previous owner had called him to clear the bees, but she ended up not being able to afford the removal.

Beekeeper
A woman in Pennsylvania was desperate for help after finding out that nearly 500,000 bees were living in the walls of her home. Seen here is a beekeeper in the U.K. tending to a bee colony in 2007. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Bees are known for forming highly complex colonies. Three types of bees make up a typical honeybee hive, according to the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture: workers, drones, and the Queen.

The vast majority of bees in a hive or colony will be worker bees, all of which are female and typically unable to reproduce. They do all the "work" for the colony, which ranges from producing wax and turning it into honeycombs to foraging nectar.

The queen, meanwhile, lays all of the colony's eggs—up to "2000 eggs each day" according to the university's report. Drones, which are male bees, only function to fertilize the queen.

Lattanzi told Newsweek that his interest in bees began when he first learned that ingesting local honey daily can potentially help cure seasonal allergies, which he had suffered from since childhood. From there, he explained that he "just got very interested in what the bees do [and] how they do what they do."

He combined his background as a general contractor with his beekeeping skills to offer both bee removal and related home repairs—a rare combination in the area.

"I learn from the bees every day," he said. "How they manage to control themselves. How they continue to grow."

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There were approximately 450,000 bees living in the home, according to CNN, and they'd been living there for about 35 years.

Lattanzi removed the bees (including the queen) and relocated three colonies to his farm, Yerkes Honey Farm. The total cost of removal and repairs will cost Weaver a reported $12,000.

"The bees were docile for a colony that has been in there for a while," Lattanzi told CNN. "Normally, when I pull a slate tile off a house I'm instantaneously covered in very defensive bees attacking me, but most of these girls were pretty docile—throughout the entire process I may have only gotten stung five or six times."

When speaking with Newsweek, he noted that bees are actually not aggressive, despite their bad rap: "For the most part, if you don't bother a honeybee, a honeybee isn't gonna bother you."

Lattanzi added that it "upsets" him to see the negative reputation attributed to honeybees. "To the common person, everything with a stinger is a bee, and that's not the case at all," he said, noting that yellowjackets, which "get drunk on fermented fruit," are typically more aggressive.

"If [you] see a cluster of bees...call a beekeeper," said Lattanzi. "Someone will come out and remove the bees for free 99 out of 100 times."