Tornado in Virginia destroys tree filled with 70,000 bees

A line of severe thunderstorms produced multiple tornadoes in Richmond, Virginia on Monday, September 17 causing extensive damage to both buildings and land in the area. One tornado toppled a tree that was near the campus of the University of Richmond resulting in a call to the faculty to remove the tree.

In a media release, Kara Connelly, a University of Richmond administrative assistant, reported that the tree had “rotted in the middle,” and was “full of bees”. The faculty was unable to remove the tree and a call was made to Kirstin Berben, a beekeeper and laboratories manager in the campus biology department.

After studying the amount of honeycomb inside the tree, Berben estimated around 70,000 bees had been living in the tree. She described the downed tree as catastrophic to the bee colony. Berben, along with university electrician David Rodriguez and landscape manager Karen Williams donned beekeeper outfits and began transferring honeycomb with clusters of bees in to storage bins.

According to a report by Madeline Farber, FOX News, one large cluster of comb likely included the queen bee.

Berben maintains beehives at her home about six miles from campus. This is where the bees will make their new home through the winter. Berben hopes the bees will remain healthy through the winter so that she will be able to return them to the University of Richmond next spring.

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