30,000 bees removed from demolition site

By Leila Steed10 August 2023

Around 30,000 honeybees have been safely removed from a demolition site belonging to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The insects were discovered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, (USACE) during demolition and abatement works to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). 

BARC is undergoing site preparations as part of plans to construct a replacement currency production facility for the US Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), which responsible for designing and printing US currency notes.

Bill Castro, head beekeeper at Bee Friendly Apiary, removing the wax honeycombs Bill Castro, head beekeeper at Bee Friendly Apiary, attended the site to remove the hives. (PHOTO: USACE/Nicole Strong)

Upon discovery of the hives, the USACE team contacted the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Maryland Beekeepers Association for assistance.

This resulted in a site inspection from bee husbandry expert Bill Castro. Bill, who is the owner and head beekeeper of the Bee Friendly Apiary in Baltimore, collected the bees using a specialist vacuum and transferred them into a bee box for transport.

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He also removed the sizeable wax honeycombs the bees had constructed in the building, salvaging around 40 lbs of honey in the process.

Both the bees and the wax honeycombs were taken to the apiary, where the honeycombs were attached to the frames of a new beekeeping box, into which the bees were safely released.

Sal Van Wert, Baltimore District Project Manager, said: “Every single person we interacted with at Baltimore District, the state agencies, and the contractor/subcontractor personnel all wanted to see the honeybees rehomed safely rather than destroyed. It was really fulfilling to witness.”

Bill Castro, head beekeeper at Bee Friendly Apiary, removing the wax honeycombs All of the bees were safely rehomed at the Bee Friendly Apiary. (PHOTO: USACE/Nicole Strong)

Despite the delay, the demolition and abatement works were able to continue on schedule. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is collaborating on the new BEP facility, site preparations are expected to continue through 2023, with construction of the new printing facility set to begin in 2024. 

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