Small business helps 100,000 bees relocate

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ICE Humane Wildlife Removal & Pest Control recently answered a call that they'll never forget. A homeowner in Caledon called them about a bee colony living in her bedroom wall. She mentioned it was big, but nothing could have prepared this experienced team for what they found once they got there.

"I've been doing this for over 30 years." said Kevin Smith, owner of Toronto's ICE Humane Wildlife Removal & Pest Control, "We knew the media would be there so we expected it to be big. But it became even bigger than we expected."

How big are we talking here? Kevin and his team estimated that a total of 100,000 bees were occupying one wall of the Caledon home. The enormous colony had been residing there since before the dawn of the decline of the honeybee population.

"The homeowner said the bees were there for 5-10 years," Kevin said, "I figured at least 10-15 years or something like that. You always take what the customer said and then add a little bit."

These days, the reality that honeybees live in is pretty grim. Reports of colonies declining go as far back as 2013, and the reasons for why this is happening vary. Some experts believe it's because of pesticides, the loss of habitable spaces, and malnutrition. Nearly 400 species of North American honeybees are considered to be zooming alarmingly fast towards extinction. The loss of the honeybee population isn't just a sad fact; it could be catastrophic to the world as we know it. There are still crops that rely solely on the hard work of these pollinating workers.

That's why this Caledon homeowner knew she had to be gentle with her long-time neighbours. She knew about the bees living in the walls of her bedroom all those years, but amazingly, they never bothered her. The only reason she sought to get rid of them was because a family member who is allergic to bees will be visiting her this summer.

That's where ICE's mandate of offering safe, non-toxic solutions to removing pests became essential. "The whole point of our company is innovative care of the environment," said Kevin, "We're supposed to use our heads as opposed to just reaching for pesticides all the time."

The company has been around since 1998. Kevin said that their central mandate of protecting the environment started not because of the greenwashing trends of the time, but because it seemed like common sense. "Use your head and outthink the insects. It's not that hard."

The ICE Pest Control crew worked hard that day. Usually, a hive this big is expected to be about three by four feet in size, and eight inches in depth. This particular hive was over three and a half feet in depth alone, with rows upon rows of honeycombs that never seemed to end. On top of that, the ICE team was battling an army of very unhappy and irritated worker bees.

"The bees were very aggressive," Kevin recalls, "Everybody got stung a few times. I got stung twice. The bees even followed everybody back to the truck."

In the end, the crew moved the bees using a safe and harmless vacuum removal system designed by the company, proving that there's no need to get chemical-happy on pests, not even the flying kind.

"When dealing with insects and rodents nowadays, it's good for customers to start looking for a company that has better solutions," Kevin said, "There are still a lot of companies that will come and spray pesticides all over your house. It's amazing what you can do with a vacuum."

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