Teamwork for Bees at Beaver Valley

Bees swarmed the arm of this manlift.

July 17, 2019

What do you do when your work equipment is now housing new residents that sting? You call a beekeeper. Or at least find one.

That’s what Rick Stanley, Beaver Valley supervisor, Facilities Maintenance, did to solve the problem on June 24. According to Rick, work scheduled near the plant administration building required use of a manlift parked outside. But when a worker went to climb aboard, he noticed a large dark mass.

It took a few seconds for him to realize it was not dirt but a beehive – and a lot of bees. “At that point, “said Rick, “he hurried back in and let us know.”

Rick called an exterminator, but the company referred him to the Beaver County Beekeepers Association. “I didn’t know such a thing even existed. We reached out hoping for an immediate response since we needed to start working.”

While the team was awaiting a call back, and discussing other options, George Nicol, a Day & Zimmermann employee and Beaver Valley site worker, happened to walk in and soon became the solution Maintenance needed.

“I overheard some of the conversation and told Rick that I’m an experienced beekeeper, and asked if he would mind if I relocated the hive,” said George. “I am familiar with the process, and I thought it was a better approach than harming or killing the bees. They’re fascinating creatures, and they play such an important role in our ecosystem that I try to do my part to ensure their survival.”

George brought in specially designed boxes that would attract the queen. “Once you get the queen, the other bees will follow.” He set the boxes first thing in the morning, and by early evening, there was no trace of bee activity on the boom arm of the manlift. Having persuaded the bees to huddle inside the box, George took it, the hive and all its residents home that night, relocating them in Brighton Township.

In addition to ensuring a healthy bee colony could continue to thrive, the rescue operation had a secondary effect. Safely relocating the winged visitors avoided a potential safety incident. Bee stings, if they occur on site and cause injury or illness to an employee, are considered OSHA-recordable events.

Rick said he is pleased with the way things unfolded. “This worked out really well for all involved, and it was an interesting learning experience. It’s a great example of our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship.”

Note: FirstEnergy recognizes the value of bees and other pollinators to our ecosystem. We recently joined the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and more than 20 other utility companies to participate in National Pollinator Week. Read more about the importance of bees and other pollinators here.