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Colonie abuzz over bees

Honeybees are creating a stir in the Town of Colonie as they have taken up residence in a corner of the highway department's salt shed and need to be removed. But because they are honeybees, and not yellow jackets, hornets or another type of bee, extracting the insects from the shed calls for more than just exterminators because the honeybee is just shy of making the endangered species list.

According to Michele Matuszek from the town's highway department, the honeybee colony is about 4 by 8 inches.

It's quite large, she said.

Matuszek said she started making calls to learn the best way to remove the bees, but because the honeybees are so close to being an endangered species, the state Department of Environmental Conservation asks that a beekeeper come and take the bees out alive. Beekeepers tend to bring the live bees to a bee sanctuary after they extract them.

It will cost the town about $600 to have the bees extracted, and funding was approved by the Town Board at its regular meeting on Thursday, Aug. 6.

The company that will extract the bees is Sweet Sunshine/Honey Bee Gone, based out of Johnstown.

The company's owner and president of the Southern Adirondack Beekeeping Association Dan Kerwood said it is paramount to the human existence that the honeybee population stays intact.

"The honeybee colonies are dying off," said Kerwood. "And unfortunately, if the honeybees get wiped out, we're not going to be far behind them."

Honeybees are so important to humans, Kerwood said, because their pollination is crucial for the survival of many crops, including wheat and oats, corn, peaches, plums and "pretty much everything other than root crops." Kerwood, who has been beekeeping for the past 10 years, said the pollination occurs when the bee touches the male and female parts of the flower when it is out collecting nectar.

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