Honey bee colony relocated from light pole

A colony of tens of thousand of honey bees was successfully relocated Wednesday from a streetlight pole in Santa Clara, according to Silicon Valley Power officials.

Around 40,000 European honey bees were moved to a standard beehive box at a ranch run by a local youth 4-H club after their previous residence, the streetlight pole near Mission College, was removed by crews with Silicon Valley Power, Santa Clara’s municipal electric utility.

The bees were getting in the way of the utility’s planned upgrade of the streetlight and crews determined the best course of action was to remove the pole and relocate it to a work area to safely extract the bees.

To remove the bees, utility officials said a team lifted the pole off of its base and local bee extraction expert Art Hall added some smoke to the inside of the pole calming the bees.

According to utility officials, a bag was placed over the opening and crews placed the pole on a truck that transported the bees to the Silicon Valley Power construction yard.

The utility’s principal electrical estimator Lenny Buttitta, who also oversees the volunteer beekeeping program at the 4-H ranch, said in a statement, “Forty-two percent of U.S. honey bees died off last year. We need to do everything we can to save as many of the bees as possible, since a third of all the food we eat is a direct result of bee pollination.” Utility officials said the bees will live out the rest of their lives at the 4-H ranch.