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Bees visit Whidbey News-Times

Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times L.V. Tozer, a beekeeper living in Oak Harbor, works to remove thousands of bees that were in a tree next to the Whidbey News-Times office on Barrington Drive in Oak Harbor.  -
Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times L.V. Tozer, a beekeeper living in Oak Harbor, works to remove thousands of bees that were in a tree next to the Whidbey News-Times office on Barrington Drive in Oak Harbor.
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While customers were stopping by the Whidbey News-Times office Tuesday to place a classified ad or to buy a paper, another group a visitors was buzzing around looking for a new home.

An estimated 30,000 Italian honey bees swarmed near the front entrance looking for a place to call home.

After swarming around the front office entrance scaring customers and office staff, the mass of insects eventually settled on a branch of a nearby tree while individual bees looked for a suitable place for the hive.

L.V. Tozer was called for help. A retired school teacher and hobby beekeeper, he brought his wooden hive and placed it at the base of the tree, hoping the bees would find it a suitable place for their home. He hoped that the bees’ wax that was in his hive would provide enough scent to attract the queen and all of the bees in the group.

After several hours of waiting, he decided to try a more direct approach. Tozer, who oddly enough is allergic to bees, donned protective gear, moved his pickup truck underneath the large ball of bees and put up a ladder. Once he climbed up, he started shaking the trees so the black-and-yellow-striped bugs would drop into a bag. Ignoring the thick hoards buzzing angrily, he then placed the bees in his hive.

Once the queen bee was in the man-made hive, hundreds of the female bees hurried outside its entrance, fanning their wings. That way, a pheromone the queen gives off indicating her new location spreads to bees that were away from the group.

Tozer, who has been a beekeeper for 10 to 12 years, was surprised to see the colony in the area, considering he didn’t know of another hive close by.

“I don’t know where they g5re3w35ygw3He took up beekeeping as a hobby after retiring from teaching. He appreciates the work ethic the bees have.

“When you’re retired, there’s always somebody around your place working,” Tozer said.

He has been stung while tending to his bees. Because he is allergic, he always keeps a penny handy in case he is stung. He uses the penny to scrape out the stinger and then places it on the bite mark, which he claims counteracts the toxin.

Tozer drove off with the bees, and visitors to the News-Times could once again enter the front door without running and shielding their heads.

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