Kelowna Mountie is 'bee's knees'

The buzz is that tenants of a Kelowna condo complex think Const. Kevin Hamilton's unique skillset makes him the bee's knees.

Hamilton got to use his special skills to get out of a sticky situation the afternoon of June 22, when concerned tenants noticed that a small swarm of honey bees—2,000 to 3,000 stong— were occupying the branch of a large tree next to a shared parking area of the complex.

"It is unclear as to why the bees were there however a swarm of bees that size usually indicates the presence of a queen. The bees had been hovering, en masse, above a section of the parking lot, making it difficult for tenants to go to and from their vehicles," said Const. Steve Holmes.

"They later formed a living hive on the branch while hundreds of other bees buzzed about the parking lot area on protective patrols. Tenants were concerned about the potential of painful interactions between the bees and people; the most vulnerable being children, the elderly and those with allergic reactions to bee venom."

The complainant, Lee-Ann Erickson, tried to find a solution for the problem that didn't involve extermination of the bees, and was told to call the police. Fortunately, the Police Dispatchers were aware of Const. Hamilton's skills as an active Apiarist (bee keeper) and he happened to be on shift that day.  Hamilton was dispatched to the call and arrived prepared in his white bee suit and with his tools of the trade, a hive box, a hand pruner and a smoker.

"As the tree branch was low to the ground, Const. Hamilton was able to reach it and pacify the agitated insects with some puffs of smoke," said Holmes.

"With the bees now calmer, Const. Hamilton gingerly shook the branch, causing most of the bees to fall  into the waiting hive box. He then cut the branches, containing the hangers on, to ensure all of the bees, including the queen were in the box. He waited a minute or two see if the bees would fly away, an indication that the queen was not inside the box, but the bees stayed."

Finally, Const. Hamilton covered and carried the box to his vehicle, to the sound of applause by the tenants and curious onlookers. The happy hive was then transported to an orchard in a rural area to begin it's new life in the honey making business.

Two days later, a number of “transient” bees were found in the same tree. The call went out and, once again, Const. Hamilton came to the rescue. Following the same procedure as before, he put the bees in a hive box and “bee”united them with the rest of the colony.

The complainant, Lee-Ann Erickson, expressed the tenants collective gratitude to Const. Hamilton with a big "thank you" letter that was sent to a local media outlet and published. Among the sentiments expressed were the following:

"Kevin, I just wanted you to know that your prompt response and amazing bee keeper skills were very much appreciated by all the residents of Missionview Estates tonight. You are such a pro!! Calm, cool, turned a very alarming situation into one of calm you went about your business with skilled expertise. Well done, you are our hero".

"We thank you, Const. Kevin Hamilton!! We had a good chuckle when you said that you were going to come in your RCMP uniform; we're so glad that you traded it for your beekeeper's hat and coveralls."

It was a “golden” opportunity for Const. Hamilton to marry his hobby, and policing skills in order to bring about a very "sweet" ending.


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