- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Don Bush put on a mask Monday, but he wasn’t dressing for Halloween.

The Galveston County Daily News (https://bit.ly/2eY8RPA ) reports the house he was knocking on had a creepy crawly problem, and he came with bags of tricks to get rid of it.

Bush is, after all, the person you call when there’s something strange in your neighbor’s wood.

He’s a beekeeper, and on Monday he was in the backyard of vacant house in Galveston. He was there because neighbors had called the city’s code enforcement division about the number of bees coming from the house.

The city called Bush.

“I do a lot of pro bono work for the city,” Bush said. “Churches, fire departments, law enforcement, I always give them a discount.”

What he found at the house was no small hive. Behind the blue siding, was an 8-foot tall honeycomb. As many as 60,000 bees lived in there, Bush said.

“Unless you go right up and mess with them, they aren’t going to mess with you,” he said, minutes after approaching the hive sans safety gear. “All they want to do is gather the nectar and pollen.”

Bush, 76, said he’s been working with bees for 65 years. He learned to care for them from his grandfather, a Louisiana farmer who traded honey for other goods during the Depression.

After 23 years in the merchant marines, Bush retired and turned to beekeeping. He keeps a bee farm, an apiary, on the West End of Galveston, and sells honey products in downtown Galveston on Sunday mornings. He calls his business BOI Honey - Bees On the Island.

Monday’s bees were headed to that farm, after Bush got them off the house.

Taking a small commercial vacuum, Bush sucked the bees into a bucket fitted with a screen. The bees go in, but they can’t get out. With the bees removed, he chips away at the honeycomb, depositing the pieces into a bucket. The honey he makes with the bees will be sold at the farmers market and local specialty grocery stores.

Vacant and deteriorated homes can attract swarms of the bees, Bush said. If they’re not attended to, they can cause big problems, he said.

The biggest mistake people make is trying to deal with an out-of-hand problem with pesticides, he said.

“People go in there and start to spray, and the bees go wild,” he said. “They start stinging everything in sight.”

One of his next scheduled projects was at a house across the San Luis Pass. The people who called him said the hive was 25 feet tall. He’ll believe it when he sees it, he said.

“They usually underestimate,” Bush said.

___

Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, https://www.galvnews.com

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