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Approximately 30,000 Bees Removed from ISU’s Swanson Arch

July 15, 2019

Swanson Arch lit up with red light in darkness as beekeeper work on it to retrieve bees.
In the darkness of early morning, beekeepers work to remove bees from ISU's historic Swanson Arch.

POCATELLO – Swanson Arch, Idaho State University’s most iconic historical landmark that students march through entering and graduating from the University, attracted a colony of bees this summer that weren’t interested in an education but in making honey.

On Friday, approximately 30,000 bees were removed from the arch by beekeepers who were assisted by Idaho State University Facilities Services maintenance workers. There’s a happy ending for the bees: they are now in a new off-campus hive, back to making honey.  They will be moved to a farm south of Chubbuck this fall.

“We got a call about a week ago that bees were swarming around the arch,” said Dee Rasmussen, zone maintenance manager for ISU Facilities Services. “We went over and looked and honey bees were making a home in the top of the arch.”

Worker removing honey comb from arch.The bottom of the arch is wood and the bees entered it through open knot holes in the wood. Knowing bees are having a hard time nationally and that they’re valuable, Rasmussen called around to find a beekeeper to remove them. He discovered there are several part-time beekeepers on ISU’s staff, including Sarah Hofeldt, a fitness instructor for the ISU Wellness Center and physical education department.

“Bees are having a hard time and I’m thrilled to death ISU and Dee Rasmussen did the responsible and good thing and didn’t exterminate them,” Hofeldt said.

Hofeldt and her husband, Nick, showed up at 5 a.m. Friday to remove the bees, with the help of ISU workers

Queen bee in a box.The Hofeldts cut five slates in the arch to expose the honeycomb and bees. As they Hofeldts removed combs, they searched for the queen. When found, the queen was gently caught and transported it separately in a box.  

“It was important to find her and not vacuum her up,” Hofeldt said.  “She was the most important piece to the puzzle and it was fortunate we found the queen and got her in a cage.”

Then, the rest of the bees were vacuumed up and honeycomb was removed from the arch. The bees and the queen were transported to a hive at Hofeldt’s property in Chubbuck.

“It absolutely went as flawlessly as could be,” Hofeldt said. “No one got stung. The bees were docile. I have to say the ISU boys that came down were awesome and very patient with us. They went above and beyond. They let us cut wood and do what we needed to do. And they’re going to patch the hole and fix it back up. The whole process was a huge success.”


Photo information: Middle photo, removing honeycomb from the arch; bottom photo, the queen bee. Photos by Dee Rasmussen.



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