Swarm of bees visits Capitol

A swarm of more than 1,000 bees paid a visit to the Capitol complex Monday, gathering on a small tree next to the Blaisdel Building.

Buildings and Grounds officials called the state's unofficial beekeeper, Sally Lincoln, whose day job is administrative assistant to Secretary of State Ross Miller.

Lincoln said it's the third time in the past year or so a swarm of bees has gathered at that same spot.

She said there is a very successful hive in a large tree a block or so away and, when it gets too big, a group of bees with its own queen will leave to form a new hive.

"They probably split off from that," she said.

Lincoln, who has kept bees for a decade, went home and put on her beekeeper's suit. She also brought a bee box hoping they would adopt it as their new home.

"From a full-size hive you can get 60 pounds of honey in one season," she said as several hundred of the bees buzzed around her head.

Pointing to the thick cluster of bees on a branch, she said the queen would be in the center of that mass of workers. She said scouts were already checking out the box on a first floor window ledge of the Blaisdel building.

"Hopefully, they'll like it. But if the queen doesn't, she'll just leave and they'll all follow her."

Apparently, the queen found the quarters, including a half-dozen trays already patterned with the hexagonal beginnings of a honeycomb, to her liking. She and her court had moved in by 1 p.m.

Lincoln said she will move the hive to a permanent spot so the bees can get busy making honey this summer.

But she won't put them where she did last year. Bears found those hives and destroyed them to get the honey.

The move will have to happen at night when all the bees have returned to the box. To keep them from getting out and lost or taking revenge on whoever tries to move the box, she has to tape all the openings in the box shut first.

Lincoln got started 10 years ago when the owner of a garden center where she worked gave her his hives.

She said Nevada once had a state beekeeper but the position hasn't been filled since he retired. So Buildings and Grounds relies on her when a swarm shows up.


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