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Beekeeper works to protect bee swarms in West Michigan

He urges people to make the call to a beekeeper who can relocate the bees instead of killing them.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Jason Osbourn began beekeeping as a hobby.

"I'm on the verge of about a half a million bees total in this yard," says Osbourn, owner of Aberdeen Apiary in Grand Rapids. "I needed a distraction and bees were it. It's a neat little side project."

While he enjoys taking care of them, he knows sometimes they can frighten people. Including when they create a swarm.

"It's actually been a very heavy week for swarms," says Osbourn. "I went and picked some up myself last week and I've seen at this point probably a dozen different calls."

Seeing hundreds of bees together in one place may seem dangerous at first, but Osbourn says it's quite the opposite.

"A swarm of bees is actually the safest time to be around bees," he says.

Swarms are where bees mate. They gather together in clumps while looking for a place to build their hive.

"So they don't have anything to defend," explains Osbourn. "Any bee that they lose by stinging someone isn't going to help out building that new colony."

If you happen to find a swarm in your yard, getting one out is as easy as giving Osbourn or another beekeeper a call.

"If you leave a swarm alone, within a day or two they're going to move on and find a place they can live permanently," he says. "But the problem is, in the city, sometimes that permanent place is a cavity in someone's wall."

Osbourn will move the bee swarm to a safe place free of charge. Because bees pollinate plants, they are a vital part of farm to table food. He urges people to make the call to a beekeeper instead of killing them.

"If we lost them, there's really not much we can do about it," Osbourn says. "We'd be in some serious trouble."

You can reach Osbourn through his website, or you can find a beekeeper in your area through the Michigan Beekeepers Association.

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