Beekeepers remove a half million bees from New York home

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Marcus Solis has the story from Wallkill. (WABC)

Beekeepers have quite the task ahead of them as they remove hundreds of thousands of honey bees that have taken up residence at a New York house.

The Orange County family living there discovered the bees while they were clearing trees. They were preparing to replace the siding, but couldn't get to it because of the bees. One of the homeowners is allergic to the insects.

"I was like oh my God, I couldn't believe it," homeowner Brian Paffenroth said.

Seeing a half million bees will spark that kind of reaction.

On Thursday, beekeepers Marcel Witschard Jr. and Carl Witschard opened up the facade to expose hundreds of thousands of bees packed in between one column, their yellow honeycombs spilling over to the adjacent ones.

It's a swarm that had been building for years, and the beekeepers say it will take at least a week for them to remove them all.

"It's hard to judge it," Carl Witschard said. "But when they get the really dark honey on the bottom, I'd say at least a minimum of five years or more."

Paffenroth admits he saw bees coming and going from the small opening, but he had no idea the infestation was so severe.

"Couldn't hear them in the house, because the house inside has plaster walls," he said. "So it's not like old sheetrock or something like that. I mean this was built in the 20s, so everything is pretty well sound. You could never heard them."

The beekeepers cut away the hives, yielding honey for Paffenroth, and are using other pieces to lure the bees into a box.

The family of beekeepers doing this work will relocate the bees to their bee farm. Their motto is "save the bees, save the world."

"You've got pears, peaches, strawberries, tomatoes," Marcel Witschard said. "We need bees."

Marcel has devoted the last 25 years to protecting the vital part of the food chain. He's so appreciative that he isn't shy about kissing a mighty worker bee -- one of an estimated 80,000 that followed the queen into a box.

"The bees are getting acclimated to that box," Carl Witschard said. "We'll let it sit there for three or four days, a week at the most. And then we'll take that away, and then they can seal the building up."

And that will close the chapter on an un-bee-lievable situation.
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