Dewey resident Cliff Deane has a thing for bees and will remove bee swarms for no charge.
Deane, a retired Army officer, raises thousands of bees in Dewey, sometimes producing more than 50 pounds of honey per hive. If the bees are on trees or on the eaves of a home, Deane, 65, will relocate the insects to a bee yard.
Should he have to perform more work on a job, however, he will charge for the service.
"The last one we had, was found hanging in a tree. I got a box and some pruners, trimmed away the branches, got it and put it in a box, took them down to the bee yard and put them in a hive," Deane said.
Deane and his wife, Nancy, operate Last Shadow Apiary near their home.
Deane first became interested in bees as a child in West Virginia where he lived on a farm. After 35 years in the military, he decided to return to the hobby.
Prescott Fire Department Battalion Chief Cory Moser said he appreciates Deane's offer of service. Most bee swarm calls, he said, are typically non-life threatening.
"When we get calls for bee swarms, our primary concern is life safety," Moser said. "When someone has a life-threatening allergic reaction to bee stings, we respond to that a little differently than we would otherwise."
If possible, fire crews will try to not kill the bees to keep healthy population numbers in Yavapai County.
"If the bees aren't moving and someone has a life-threatening condition, we will go in and spray some of our firefighting foam on them. Bees are very important. We're certainly not trying to exterminate bees or damage the population," Moser said.
Deane also specializes in reforming Africanized bees.
"Last year the Arizona government estimated there were six million Africanized bee hives between Flagstaff and the Mexican border," Deane said. "African hives swarm about 16 times a year, whereas a European queen might swarm once a year. If all those African hives only swarm about 10 times a year, then this next year we're going to have 60 million African hives here in Arizona."
Those who choose to keep bees, he said, provide a much-needed service in the community.
"Any time a beekeeper is required to move his bees because of a new ordinance or whatever, African hives will take up that space very quickly. Towns and cities should really be encouraging beekeepers to put bees in," Deane said.
Deane operates under the assumption all Yavapai County swarms are composed of Africanized bees.
"When you put them in a hive, you have to find the queen and kill her. About six days later, you insert a new queen. She comes in a little box about two inches long. She comes with about two or three attendants. At one end of the box is a piece of candy. The bees in the hive start eating the candy, and the queen and her attendants start eating the candy from the inside. By the time the two meet, the bees have picked up on the pheromones of the queen and they accept her," Deane said.
In four to five weeks, the Africanized bees in that hive will have died off, replaced by European bees.
Deane can be reached at 928-910-3100 for more information.