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Family finds 12,000 bees in backyard; watch expert collect them without a single sting

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- A Mechanicsville family got quite the shock when they discovered a swarm of bees had taken over a bush in their backyard Friday. Bee experts estimated 12,000 bees were using Jacob and Julia Meade Tulli's backyard as a temporary spot while moving from one hive to another.

"We were super concerned," Julia Meade Tulli said. "We have small children."

Knowing how important bees are to the environment and unsure what to do, the Tullis sent photos to a friend who is part of the Richmond Beekeepers Association.

A few hours later, Richmond Beekeepers Association President Wayne Surles and Virginia Tech bee expert Dr. Rick Fells arrived at the Mechanicsville home. Dr. Fells just happened to be in town after speaking at an event.

"They were so kind and helpful to teach me about bees," Julia Meade Tulli said. "I knew bees were vital to our food sources, but did not know much about them in general. I feel that a scary situation turned into a really awesome one in which I am more knowledgeable now."

Dr. Surles recorded Dr. Fells shaking the bees into a box. Dr. Fells was not wearing any protective gear at the time.

"I'm not as brave as Rick is," Dr. Surles said during a phone interview. "He can look at the bees and can tell how comfortable they are or if they plan to attack."

It's swarm season, Dr. Surles advised. He suspected a queen bee was kicked out of her original hive and was on the lookout for a new place to build her colony.

The displaced queen and some of her followers were using the Tullis' backyard while scout bees searched for an acceptable location to relocated.

After leaving the bee box outside overnight, the bee experts returned to the Mechanicsville home Saturday to finish the job.

"The bees have a new home and they seem very happy," Dr. Surles said. "We're having a problem keeping bees healthy. It's a national problem. If a swarm occurs, and someone can collect them, they're going to have a good home."

If you discover a swarm of bees around your home and need help, Richmond Beekeepers Association President Wayne Surles can be reached at 302-983-3349.

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