Sara and Jason Weaver struggled to beelieve that their new house in Skippack Township had so many surprise guests — around 450,000 of them.
In December, the Weavers bought what appeared to be their dream farmhouse, where they could keep their kids in the same school district, Jason Weaver said. They decided to skip doing an inspection on the 1872 house because of the competitive real estate market and buzzed into closing the deal.
A clause in the seller’s disclosure that said “bees in wall” bugged them, but the Weavers thought it would be easy to manage, he said. Last spring, however, problems arose at the Montgomery County home.
“As spring approached, we started to see bees, and more bees, and more bees, and then it was like swarms of bees,” the new homeowner said. “They were in the house, they were in the light fixtures, they were in the attic, they were everywhere, and that’s when we contacted Allan.”
Allan is Allan Lattanzi, a general contractor and professional beekeeper who owns Yerkes Honey Farms in Collegeville.
The Weavers were stung after Lattanzi’s first visit, when they learned they had three colonies inside the walls of their house, located around the windows on one of the home’s sides and in a corner.
Lattanzi had had the house on his radar ever since the previous owner told him four years ago that the bees have been there for at least 35 years.
During his nine years in the business, this was “the biggest bee removal and reconstruction” project Lattanzi said he has done — and the most costly. His bee-removal projects usually only involve a home’s exterior and cost around $2,500, but this project required construction and removal work inside the home, which was quoted around $12,000.
Last week, he removed the bees by cutting the combs and sucking the bees out of the hives with a special vacuum that does not harm them, Lattanzi said. He also used the three queen bees of each colony to attract the rest of the bees out.
“We were going to try to put the original fleet of the wall where most of the colonies were back up, but as he took it down it was brittle and broke. It wasn’t worth it,” Weaver said.
Now, they are only waiting for the new windows to arrive and get installed. Instead of the original slate they wanted to put back on, they are going to install vinyl on the walls.
Once the beekeeper removes the bees, he takes them to his apiaries where he takes care of them, and produces honey and beeswax candles.
“I am deeply passionate about taking care of bees,” said Lattanzi, who became a beekeeper to defeat his seasonal allergies. “Without bees, we are dead. Bees pollinate everything we eat and if they don’t pollinate what we eat, they pollinate the things that the animals we eat eat.”
The house has mostly been vacant since the Weavers bought it, but renters recently moved in and were there when Lattanzi’s project began.
“The tenants were there while the work was being done, but the bees weren’t coming inside, fortunately. I was able to remove everything from the outside of the house,” Lattanzi said.
This bee invasion has delayed the Weavers’ plan for moving into their new home. “We originally thought we would move in in the fall, but now we think that won’t happen until next year,” Jason Weaver said.
The Weavers said they don’t regret having bought the house but wished they had done the inspection on time.