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Colonie abuzz over bees

Without their pollination, Kerwood said, "food would become very scarce and we would eventually become cannibals."

Kerwood said that some people have speculated that without honey bees, the human population would last three to five years.

"So we gotta do the best we can to keep the bees coming," he said.

Kerwood does this by extracting the live bees and putting them in hives in wooden boxes in a safe location where the bees can flourish and live. Bees hibernate in the winter, he said, so they simply stay in their hives and rest until temperatures reach at least 48 degrees again. When the weather starts getting colder, but it is not yet time to hibernate, Kerwood said the bees feed off of their honey and beat their wings rapidly to create heat. When it is 5 degrees outside, this activity can heat the hives up to between 80 and 90 degrees, he said.

When they are not hibernating, the bees are producing honey. Kerwood lets the bees keep 100 pounds of honey in their hive and everything after 100 pounds he extracts and sells.

This year, Kerwood predicts the honey crops will be light because bees do not work in the rain, something this summer has had in abundance.

He also sells beekeeping tools and hopes to start up beekeeping classes at one of the Capital District's community colleges this fall.

Kerwood offered some advice for those who have bees in their home and are not sure whether the bees are honey bees. One quick indicator is the physical appearance of the bee, he said.

"The hornets and yellow jackets tend to be very glossy in color," he said, while honey bees are duller. Kerwood also said honeybees are furry, and while bumblebees are also fuzzy, they are much bigger than honeybees, which are about the same size as a dry bean.

But the best way to tell what kind of bee is in your home is to do an Internet search with photos that show the different kind of bees, Kerwood said.

If you are interested in beekeeping, having a beekeeper mentor or would like to have honeybees removed from your home, contact Kerwood at dkerwood@nycap.rr.com or by telephone at 762-9364 or 774-0475.

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