An attempt to get rid of pests ended in a devastating house fire Sunday evening. The homeowners, trying to get rid of a nest of bees, lit a stick on fire and pushed it into the underside of the gutter. They were unable to extinguish the fire, and it progressed into the attic.
Units from both the City of Fayetteville Fire Department and Fayette County Fire & Emergency Services responded with full force, but the home on Burch Road in the county was a total loss. None of the occupants were injured. The Red Cross is assisting the family.
Fayette County Deputy Fire Chief Tom Bartlett advises using only the proper means to displace bugs and animals around the home. There could be pine straw or paper-backed insulation in a gutter which can readily ignite.
This is a tragic story for a number of reasons, the most significant being that a family has lost their home. Few of us will ever know what it is to suffer such a loss. Almost equally tragic is the fact that it was completely unnecessary.
There are a number of beekeepers and bee removal services available locally that would have safely removed these bees for a modest fee or possibly even at no charge. At the very least, a beekeeper could have advised them that attempting to smoke a healthy colony out of a structure would be unsuccessful. Smoking bees will not drive the bees from their nest, and will probably just result in you getting stung or worse. Removing a colony of honeybees requires the removal of the bees and the comb. Then the void must be back filled to prevent other colonies from moving in.
If you have bees inside a structure that need to be removed, please contact a beekeeper. We understand their biology, and would be glad to offer guidance or refer you to someone who can help. We even have a list of local beekeepers that make themselves available for exactly that purpose!
Our heart goes out to this family, and we hope that anyone finding themselves in the same situation would opt to enlist the assistance of a beekeeper before resorting to dangerous measures such as these.