The list of headache-inducing hidden surprises that sometimes slip by new homeowners during the pre-closure inspection period is a massive one: leaky plumbing, shoddy wiring, lead paint, a hidden room in the basement that serves as a portal to hell. For one Canadian couple, that hidden surprise was a kitchen ceiling that dripped honey — nearly 2,000 pounds of sweet, delicious, and very hyperlocal honey.
Crazy enough, Loretta and Kevin Yates had been living in their modest cement block house in Varney, Ontario, for over five years, not five weeks or months, before it was discovered that two colonies containing up to 180,000 honey bees (!) along with a sizable nest of yellow jacket wasps had taken up residence in the space between the ceiling of the ground level and the floor of the second level. Apparently, the Yates were totally oblivious to the fact that they were sharing their abode with thousands upon thousands of bees until the ceilings in both the living room and the kitchen began to crack and ooze honey. One of the dome light fixtures in the kitchen was filled with the golden liquid at one point.
So did someone summon the Candyman? Probably not, as a neighbor reports that swarms of bees have been an issue in the area for nearly four years.
Loretta, who spent her nights pacing around the house “concerned about the flickering lights, fearful the ceiling might collapse and the bees could swarm inside,” tells the St. Catharines Standard: “We don’t hear them buzzing or anything. It’s just the crack in the ceiling. Like you’re standing in the kitchen and you get honey dripped down your hair. It’s not pleasant.” The beleaguered mother of a 22-month-old son adds: “Until we’d seen the massive honey dripping and stuff, I didn’t know what we were really dealing with was as big a problem as it’s turned out to be.”
Not pleasant indeed, but certainly not as terrifying as this infestation story out of Idaho from last year which is truly the stuff of nightmares. I don't even like thinking about that one.
Instead of calling upon an exterminator — or a priest — the Yates did the right thing when they realized that their home was completely under siege: they hired a seasoned apiarist to step in and rectify the situation. Earlier this week, local beekeeper David Shuit and his team pulled down the ceilings during a successful, five-hour attempt to remove the hives and honeycomb and to isolate the queen bees of both colonies. Shuit tells the St. Catharines Standard: “If the queen leaves the hive, the whole hive goes with her. They don’t want to stay in the hive without her. It’s really amazing. Bees are fascinating.” And those "unruly" yellow jackets? Shuit eradicated them with good, old-fashioned insecticides after the bees had been removed.
During the clean-up and removal process, Shuit downgraded the estimated number of bees living in the Yates' home from 180,000 to 30,000 after he discovered that the queen living above the kitchen had already taken off along with her minions (I suppose that one of her drones tipped her off that something was up) and that the queen in the second colony had been laying a low number of eggs.
Says Loretta of Shuit’s assistance: “We’re really grateful for him and his help, with Saugeen Country, ‘cause I don’t know what we would do otherwise. This is overwhelming and a big project. I’m still hardly believing it. It seems like a dream; a terrifying dream.”
Still, the Yates’ terrifying dream may not be quite over as they are facing hefty bee removal and repair bills which are expected to top $3,000 CAD. The couple’s home insurance won’t cover any damages caused by the industrious interlopers as it's considered an "act of nature" (insert "honey pit" joke here). Plus, there’s the fact that a third colony was recently spotted trying to move on in. “It was another swarm of bees coming, like another hive of bees coming here, but the house was already full. So they couldn’t actually get access into the house, so they just swarmed on the outside,” says Loretta, who is currently living with her family at her brother's house while the sticky mess left behind is cleaned up and the ceilings are rebuilt.
Ouch. The whole non-insurance thing must really sting. I guess it's time that the Yates brush up on their candle-making skills tout de suite. Or perhaps this fellow Canadian needs a donation?