The Cambrian

Hakuna Matata Bee Co. helps relocate local bees

The Hakuna Matata Bee Co. helps remove bees for relocation instead of extermination.
The Hakuna Matata Bee Co. helps remove bees for relocation instead of extermination. Courtesy photo

When Beth Yudovin of Cambria went to check her water use in early June, she lifted the meter lid and found a fledgling hive of honeybees.

While she wisely didn’t get her water stats that day, Yudovin did launch a bee-saving project that took about four weeks to complete.

When Yudovin called local services district representatives, she said later, she was told they’d likely exterminate the bees.

Jerry Gruber, general manager of the Cambria Community Services District, said in an email interview Monday, July 13, that “we do not have a written policy regarding bee removal from meter boxes. I believe it would be safe to say that the field staff would evaluate the situation and make the best decision based on the risk associated with the removal of the bee hive.”

Extermination wasn’t on Yudovin’s list of viable options, however. After some online and other research, she found the Hakuna Matata Bee Co.

Owners and bee enthusiasts Chad Morabito, Max Bigras and Proxima Parada drummer Andy Olsen describe their services and their bee-preservation philosophy on their website.

“We all share a marked appreciation and respect for these creatures and their valuable role in the health of our planet. We hope to have a positive impact on our local honey bee population by providing a live removal service, educating community members and promoting a harmonious coexistence with these amazing insects.”

On July 3, Morabito and removal partner Pat Michelsen transferred Yudovin’s hive, “two huge honeycombs, full of bees,” she reported.

The men carefully — very carefully — placed the combs and bees in an apiary box, one of the large square white boxes often seen on local open spaces. The boxes are used to contain bee hives and transport them to areas where they can collect and disseminate pollen, thereby creating honey and pollinating crops.

Morabito, a Cal Poly senior studying kinesiology, said July 14 he’s babysitting the bees at his home outside San Luis Obispo and will donate them to a friend’s ranch on Los Osos Valley Road.

He estimated that the bees — 1,000 to 1,500 of them — had been in Yudovin’s meter box for about a month. They’d produced about a half cup of honey, which he gave to Yudovin.

Why go to all that trouble? According to the Hakuna Matata website, “It’s no secret: Bees are an essential member of our global ecosystem.

“Sadly, honey bee populations throughout the world are severely threatened. Urban sprawl, use of insecticides and herbicides, and genetic weakening caused by commercialized bee practices have fractured, poisoned and crippled feral bee populations. Every colony counts. This is why it is so important to relocate rather than exterminate bees when they nest in an inconvenient location. Our practices are gentle, pesticide free, and keep the colony intact.”