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Beekeeping isn't a job for the faint-hearted, it takes some serious skill and some next-level guts to meet the demands, dangers, and all-round disgust that comes with it. No one knows this better than a Louisiana man who goes by the name of Jeff Horchoff. One day he urgently rushed to the aid of a family that heard an unsettling sound emitting from somewhere in their home. What Jeff and the family found that led to a shocking discovery.
Being an unprecedented expert in his field, Jeff was renowned in his community for helping take care of St. Joseph Abbey’s bee farm for over a decade. With all this experience and time, not much could ever catch him by surprise so far in his career. Having produced 500 gallons of honey (per year) along with three other volunteers, Jeff and his team are often tasked to respond to some of the wildest bee-related calls rescues, each as absurd as the next.
His entire career, Jeff had been recruited to rescue several families from an abnormal presence of bees in their homes or their workplaces. Jeff, along with 3 colleagues, has spent years removing and rescuing bees and then transporting them (the bees) to safer spaces where they could produce honey. But, one day in March, Jeff and his team were about to come across a site that they had never witnessed before.
In March 2017 Jeff was called to a woman’s house due to a loud buzzing noise under her the floorboards bed. It was not the first time he had been called to help with such a problem. His friendly and calm demeanor plus a passion for bees makes him the best choice if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Jeff had no idea what was waiting underneath the floorboards in that house.
An expert such as Jeff has quite the cache of beekeeping tools that keep him at the top of his game. One of these tools is a handheld thermal camera that enables Jeff to detect hives hidden somewhere in a family's home. Jeff had seen a lot of bee life in his career, but, what he picked up on the thermal camera this time caused him to pause for a moment as something unprecedented was underneath these floorboards.
For all intents and purposes, this wasn't Jeff's first visit to the house, it was actually his second. On his first visit, Jeff had two latches installed on the floorboard after the first bee-related episode. This meant that it wouldn’t be difficult getting underneath and see what exactly was underneath. Despite his experience not just in his work but in this home too, Jeff was about to see something his veteran career had never come across before.
Using a hand drill that he always had with him whether he was on a rescue mission or not, Jeff unscrewed the bolts holding down the floor panel. He put on a protective suit that would keep him safe from any stingers, and when he was all set, it was time to lift the latches and find out exactly what was underneath this wonderful family's home. It was unthinkable in every sense of the word.
Jeff, along with being a beekeeper also funneled his profession into building a successful YouTube channel where he likes to put up videos of his bee adventures. Based on the thermal reading, he knew something special was underneath those boards just waiting for him and his loyal audience. After lifting the no-longer-latched floorboard, something stunning was certainly at the bottom, and Jeff, the 13-year veteran, had never seen this before.
What Jeff found was something that he had never witnessed in his time as a career beekeeper. Lifting the latch, right underneath it was a four-foot-long hive that was as heavy as it sounds. The hive alone wasn't a horrific sight on its own, it was part of a messy masterwork. The massive hive was accompanied by erosion on the wooden nook beneath the floorboard, as well as insulation which was hung tattered from the sideboards and errant pieces of the nest that were wedged into splintered cracks. It was a mess. How were they going to deal with this?
Seeing as it was the month of March, there was no chance they were there hybernating at the time. Before even lifting the latched floorboard, Jeff knew that he would find a massive colony of awake bees. There was a chance that the hive had around 15,000 to 20,00 bees based on the season alone. Finding them was only part of his job, getting rid of them was the next and much harder step, and Jeff would need all his skill to accomplish such a feat.
Jeff and his team have this down to a gentle science. The bees have made their hive underneath floorboards, meaning they just have to remove one board and hope the hive stays intact. Screwing on handles to the board and loosening it from its neighboring tiles, one big pull, and the entire colony is up in the air. You won’t believe your eyes with this removal!
Jeff removed the large hive in one swift motion. It could contain up to 40,000 bees that he would now safely move somewhere else. A specific bee called the mining bee prefers to make their home by tunneling through the wood. The job wasn’t finished yet as there was still so much more that they had to deal with under the bed, and that also proved to be a compelling task.
Jeff and his trusted team did manage to remove the hive, but, something happened that made their lives just a little hard. In removing the hive, two pieces fell off from the removal, leaving more bees in the exposed floorboard. Jeff had another tool with him, a smoke machine to lightly put smokey fumes around the hive which makes bees think there is a fire and try to vacate. Would this work the way that he and his team planned?
The following step would then involve removing them safely and packing the non-evacuated bees into the abbey where they would be transported to a place where they'd be able to produce honey peacefully. Remember, Jeff was not an exterminator, so his goal in these rescue missions is to save as many as practically possible. Using a vacuum, he would be able to move them without harming the +18,000 strong colony. But, that wasn't the end of it.
Jeff counted 18,000 bees moved in total from one household. When they get back to the abbey, Jeff leaves the box with the hive and releases the bees from the vacuum. After this release, he will wait in his truck to finish recording his video journey for his blog and let the bees settle in. This was one of the wildest days at the office for him. But, what has life been like since this viral incident for him and his trusted team?
Jeff knows his love and passion for bees is turning into his life’s work. He is an accomplished carpenter and retired marine but nothing brings him greater joy than working on his hives. His passion is definitely unique and rare as most people don’t want to be near hives or collecting thousands of bees! We know who we would call if we had a buzz nearby!
Bees may seem scary and you definitely don’t want to get stung but overall they are more good than evil little creatures. Jeff Horchoff is dedicating his life to the safety of this insect and he needs your help. Please check out his website and watch his vlogs to learn about his amazing bee discovery and adventures! Let us know what you think about Jeff’s purpose and mission and share with your friends to show the bees some love!