A hive of honeybees got a sweet deal Friday at a house for sale in North Chattanooga.
Instead of being poisoned, the 30,000 or so unwanted bees were vacuumed up by Fayetteville, Ga., beekeeper Joshua Lachmann, who'll house them in one of his hives -- or give or sell them to another beekeeper.
Honeybees are disappearing worldwide in what's described as "colony collapse disorder."
Its cause is unknown, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and similar honeybee disappearances occurred in the 1880s, the 1920s and 1960s.
The bees' disappearance is worrisome, because one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination, the USDA says.
"They pollinate about a third of the crops," Lachmann said. "So they're directly responsible for producing the things that we eat."
Prayer helped inspire Lachmann to launch his business, Southeast Bee Removal, three years ago. Lachman, 35, had a decade of construction work under his belt, was an avid beekeeper and wanted a new way to support his family.
He used his construction experience Friday afternoon, when he climbed a 40-foot ladder and sawed into the eave under the house's roof to vacuum up the bees and remove the honeycomb.
"There's probably at least 30,000 bees," Lachmann said.
The business is a sweet deal for him, since Lachmann charges around $700 to remove a hive and does about 100 jobs per season, he said. The thousands of bees he's brought home make organic honey that his family sells by word of mouth.
Homeowner Michelle Chastain didn't know much about bees when the hive moved in about two weeks ago to her house that was finished in 2013. She learned about the honeybee shortage and searched out Lachmann's services.
"I'm excited about saving the bees," Chastain said.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.