Something abuzz at library

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
“The View” was fascinating as employees and patrons at Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library watched beekeepers remove an errant population from the front yard on July 11. Barry and Leigh Knepper handled the task easily, convincing the bees to settle in a wooden box. They were transported to a farm in the Chambersburg area.

The new windows at Besore Library afforded staff and visitors a clear but safe view of excitement occurring outdoors.

Stung while on his daily route, a postal worker Thursday morning warned the people inside about a swarm of bees at a tree on the Baltimore Street side of the building.

"There was a swarm like a cloud in front of the windows," said Besore director Laura Bailie. "There was a huge glomb of bees in the branches, which just sagged."

A construction worker on site for library renovations called in a beekeeper for the rescue operation.

Leigh Knepper and his grandson Barry Knepper, 16, from The Bee Hive on Falling Spring Road, Chambersburg, arrived in full gear, ready to tackle what others dared not. They knew what had happened.

"The old hive was full, so they created a new queen cell," said Leigh Knepper. "The old queen left and two-thirds of the colony followed her."

The other hive wouldn't be too far away, he continued. It could be in another tree or against a building.

The expansion swarm contained bees full of honey, so they were gentle in aviary terms as they sought a new place to live, save for the one that tried to stop the USPS employee on his appointed rounds.

The beekeepers used a complex process to gather up the rogue population.

"We shook the tree and they fell into the box," said Barry.

Specifically, once the queen was inside their wooden container, a human-crafted beehive, the rest of the colony played follow the leader.

With most of the bees happily relocated, the two rescue agents plopped the lid in place, folded up the ladder, and headed back to Chambersburg.

Leigh Knepper planned to take them to a produce farm so they could pollinate by day, and recuperate each night in their new home. The Kneppers left with thousands of bees (nobody counted) and said the strays still hovering around the tree would dissipate since their queen was gone. By 3 p.m. life began to return to normal at the library, with the only buzz coming from tools used in the renovation.