December 8, 2021

To bee or not to bee is the question for DeRuyter

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Students arrive at DeRuyter School on Wednesday on the first day of classes.

DeRUYTER — One bees’ nest could cost the DeRuyter Central School District $15,000.

In the cornice above the second floor of the school toward the left of the building’s entrance, there is a bee nest, Superintendent Charles Walters pointed out Wednesday.

It has been there for about 10 years, he said, but there have been no issues with any faculty or students being stung.

The school has made numerous attempts to get rid of the bees, but the nest is so far in the cornice it cannot just be removed, Walters said. The entire cornice would have to be removed.

“Our architect estimated the replacement cost to be more than $15,000 for setup, removal of the old cornice and replacement with new cornice,” Walters said Thursday. “We may also have to hire someone to collect the bees as well.”

Walters said the bees are not a safety issue. The windows closest to the cornice have screens so the bees cannot get in the school if they tried.

“There has not been one report of anyone being pestered,” Walters said. Nobody has been stung.

He said the school is looking to add replacing the cornice to a future capital project.

“The Board of Education has been discussing a possible capital project and will decide sometime this fall when to bring it to the voters,” Walters said in an email. “The vote may happen later this year.”

If the bees do seem to act up, a beekeeper will be brought in to spray the bees.

Bryan Danforth, a professor who specializes in bees at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said it is not always advisable to completely remove bees. Wasps, in particular, hunt insects that eat plants that people may not want destroyed in a garden.

“You shouldn’t kill colonies if you don’t have to,” Danforth said.

However, the approaching colder weather does tend to agitate wasps, he said. They tend to die when frost enters the atmosphere, making them more aggressive this time of the year.

“They don’t have a lot to live for,” Danforth said.

For wasps and bumblebees, their worker bees will die off during the colder weather. Honeybees will remain active throughout the winter, however, Danforth said.

When people get stung, many think it is by a bumblebee, but Danforth said it is usually a wasp. They tend to sting more often when agitated or people get too close to their colony — the nest. Bumblebees will do the same.

The best way to avoid getting stung is to just stay away from the nests, Danforth said. Some can be in the ground, while others can be up higher.

Bees that tend to stay in one location throughout their life tend to not have a strong sting. But more social bees, like bumblebees and wasps do, Danforth said. It is their way of protecting their colony.

If you are stung, Danforth suggested using your finger nail to scrape the stinger out. He said to not try to squeeze it out because you’ll squeeze more of the stinger’s venom out.