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Bees in the News

The news media almost never gets it right when it comes to reporting about bees. They don't report the facts, instead they resort to distortion, scare tactics and sensationalism. Here are some examples:

From the local Houston television station Channel 2 "News" (Note: My comments are in red.),

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Mysterious Bees Appear In Northeast Houston
Residents Want Bees Gone

HOUSTON, 5:49 p.m. CDT May 14, 2001 -- More than a dozen boxes of bees mysteriously appeared near a northeast Houston neighborhood Monday morning, alarming area residents.

The bees appeared in a field near Veterans Memorial and Walter Road and quickly spread to nearby trees.

Neighbors called city crews but were told that because the bees were on private property they could not remove them.

J.W. Gilliam said that the residents were told to get a court order to have the bees removed or to contact the beehive owner.

"It is so close," Gilliam said. "They don't have to place them so close to where we live. There are animals, animals and the elderly near the bees."

Amber Gilliam said that she is afraid for the safety of her son.

"My son rides his four-wheeler and neighborhood kids ride their bikes through where the bees are," Gilliam said.

A white rig was also found near the bees, although area residents don't know who that belongs to.

"We have a health issue here," Gilliam said. "What if there are people with allergies or what if a kid gets stung maybe more than 200 or 300 times? Who is responsible?"

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There is nothing mysterious about the bees nor did they just "appear". They are honey bees that a commercial beekeeper placed there during the weekend. In the video, it is obvious that these are pallets of beehives with several supers on each hive. It appears that they "spread to nearby" tallow trees which they were pollinating. At least the city crew knew that they were not within their rights to trespass on to private property and wantonly destroy or tamper with someone else's possessions. The media slants the use of the word "neighbors" implying the entire neighborhood. In the video and from above you can see that it was only two "neighbors", J.W. and Amber Gilliam. In the video, you can see that "so close" to the neighborhood is actually about a quarter of a mile away. Amber is afraid for the safety of her son while he trespasses on the beekeepers property. I'm sorry Amber but I don't know why your son should even be there. The "white rig" was obviously the trailer that had transported the hives to the property. "Health issue"? How do bees affect someone's allergies? J.W., I'm sorry to inform you but they don't stir up the pollen , only the wind does that. As to a kid getting stung 200-300 times, give me a break. If the kid is in the bee yard (which clearly had a KEEP OUT sign posted in the video) and gets stung maybe his parents should teach the child how to read or the laws concerning trespassing. It was interesting to note that the "residents" didn't talk to the actual owner of the hives. Why do that when you can just make wild accusations presented as fact by the media. The actual video and narrative put on by the News 2 reporter (and I use the terms "News" and "reporter" lightly here) was even more inflammatory and riddled with incorrect and misleading statements.

From the local Houston television station Channel 13 "News" (Note: My comments are in red.),

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Mysterious bee problem has neighborhood buzzing
See photos of how hundreds of bees are now in a field near the Sablechase II subdivision

By James Irby

ABC 13 Eyewitness News
(5/15/01) Taking the sting out of a bee invasion in north Harris county -- it can't happen soon enough for folks who live nearby and feel they're under attack. The neighborhood's been buzzing ever since the bees were dropped off on Monday.

Even though the owner of those bees is coming to move them, the county attorney says they still might file charges for placing those bees so close to a residential area.

An investigator for the county attorney's office checks out the scene, and tries to make sense of the bee colonies found near the Sablechase subdivision.

Oscar Farrell/County Attorney's Office: "I can't understand why anyone would want to put them this close to a neighborhood."

The goal of the bees is to collect nectar from flowers and trees, then return to their bee boxes where they make honey. If they encounter a threat along the way, they attack. That last part is what has people in the subdivision concerned -- especially those who live a matter of feet from the hives.

Eduardo Rodriguez/Lives Nearby: "I'm a little bit scared, 'cause there's bees. And I don't want to go outside with bees all over me."

The owner of Kelley Honey, out of Paris, Texas, says the bees are his. The hives were dropped off early Monday. There are 44 hives in all. One queen and up to 80,000 bees live in each hive.

Experts say the area is thick with tallow trees. As a safety matter, Dennis Johnston says it's never a good idea to have the bees so close to a residential area. But as a business move, the tallow honey fetches a higher price.

Dennis Johnston/Jones Park & Nature Center: "Tallow honey is a nice, light-colored honey. And it's Grade A-type honey when they're finished."

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So, two of Houston's TV "News" stations (2 and 13) effectively ran John Kelley (of Kelley Honey) off the land he legally leaseda quarter of a mile away from Sablechase. The people feel they're "under attack"? Only one women was stung and that was when she went to the hives to do an interview with a "reporter". (By the way the hives had a KEEP OUT sign posted lady). The Harris County Attorney might file charges? Get real! Bees don't "attack" if they encounter a threat along the way. "A matter of feet from the hives ... more like a quarter of a mile away (1,320 feet away). Mr. Rodriguez is "scared, 'cause there's bees". I hate to break the news to you Eduardo but even when Mr. Kelley moves his hives there's still bees in your neighborhood and always have been. And really Mr. Rodriguez, when have bees ever "been all over you"? On behalf of the sane people in Harris county I wish to express my sympathy to Mr. Kelley. John, not all Houstonians are as nuts as those sensationalist TV "news" types at 2 and 13.