Coupeville Beekeeper Bruce Eckholm collects a swarm of bees in Oak Harbor (Photo courtesy of Gary Gillespie)

Coupeville Beekeeper Bruce Eckholm collects a swarm of bees in Oak Harbor (Photo courtesy of Gary Gillespie)

Coupeville beekeeper wards off large swarm

Oak Harbor residents were at home on Thursday when buzzing thundered from outside.

OAK HARBOR — Oak Harbor residents Gary and Teresa Gillespie were at home on Thursday when buzzing thundered from outside. They looked out the window to find the sky blackened by a swarm of honeybees — 20,000 of them.

The insects must have been attracted to the roses, irises, foxgloves and poppies, Gary said. With 70 rosebushes and a 400-year-old oak tree, the Gillespies are some of this year’s hosts of the garden club’s Tour & Tea event later this month.

As the bees moved in, Teresa asked a beekeeping friend what to do and was directed to Bruce Eckholm of Eckholm Farm in Coupeville, where he keeps 40 honeybee hives. Apparently, the problem is common in the beekeeping world, and they’re used to helping each other out. Eckholm showed up shortly donning beekeeping gear and holding boxes tainted by honeycomb to lure the swarm.

Eckholm, defeated, returned the next morning with even bigger boxes and a can of smoke to sedate the bees. On day three, he was able to remove a sleepy hive.

The bees found their new home, Eckholm collected new producers and the Gillespie garden remains free of a swarm: a win-win-win.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sibling publication to The Herald.

Sam Fletcher; sam.fletcher@whidbeynewsgroup.com

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