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The House of 10,000 Bees

Kirkwood man calls in "bee whisperer" to help evict unwanted house guests.

Doug Riggs hated to be rude, but he was ready to tell his unwanted house guests to buzz off.

“I just wanted to get them out of my dining room ceiling,” the Kirkwood man said. “This is my home.”

So instead of calling in an exterminator, Riggs launched an all-out rescue mission that took most of the day Wednesday and had friends and neighbors stopping by to watch from behind protective plastic sheeting.

“I didn’t want to be killing bees,” he said. “I wanted to be a good example.”

Bees, after all, pollinate our flowers and produce honey. Plus, their numbers have inexplicably dwindled in recent years.

So it came as quite a surprise to Riggs when the rescue mission removed an estimated 10,000 bees or more from his home sweet home.

And despite sealing up the hole on Wednesday night and caulking the exterior, more bees were finding their way in on Thursday, which had Riggs starting to feel a little less charitable.

“I’m done,” he joked. “I don’t have to save ALL the bees. I saved 10,000. I thought that was pretty good.”

Riggs believes he also has a second colony in his home, but that one appears to be behind tile in his master bath and may be a little trickier to handle.

But back to the de-bee operation. Riggs called the fire department to help him locate the hive using thermal imaging equipment.

Then he turned to beekeeper Kathleen Carter. She showed up with a special bee vacuum that she used to safely suck up all the bees that were uncovered once Riggs removed a section of his ceiling.

"She's like a bee whisperer," he said.

Carter filled three 18-inch cylinders with bees on Wednesday morning and returned Wednesday night to fill up a fourth. Riggs said the hive measured roughly 24 inches by 16 inches and 7 or 8 inches deep.

He said Carter estimated the bees had only been living with Riggs since March or April.

“Unbelievable,” Riggs said. “Thus the expression, ‘Busy as a bee.’"

Barbara Heise June 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Since I am DEATHLY allergic to all five venomous insects I would like to know how and why these bees nested inside this home and... where is their new habitat. I just want to stay away from there.
Lori Rose June 17, 2011 at 12:19 PM
The bees were removed to the beekeeper's property in north St. Louis County. They weren't saying why they chose Riggs' house in the first place.
Erin Anderson June 17, 2011 at 12:50 PM
What a great story! Without the bees, we won't have the flowers and the trees. Is there anything that Doug Riggs doesn't do the right way?
E D June 19, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Heard about this on the local news here in Little Rock, AR. Kudos to Mr. Riggs & to Ms. Carter for looking after our buzzing buddies! Always makes me smile to hear of stewardship such as this.

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