Monday, August 6, 2012

Geologist by Day, Beekeeper by Night

During the day Scott Ball works underground somewhere between Fremont and Sunol.  As a geologist, he documents and examines rock conditions inside of the New Irvington Tunnel.  He helps ensure the tunnel is excavated safely and according to design specifications. Scott also monitors construction activity at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. Underground or above it- Scott is one of the many men and women working seismically upgrade the Hetch Hetchy Water System.

When he goes home at night he trades his hard hat, miners lamp and self-rescuer for a veil, gloves and a smoker.  Why?  Scott is also a hobbyist beekeeper.

Recently, his day job required the talents of his night job.  Crews noticed that a colony of honeybees had taken up residence inside of a sound wall at the Irvington Portal.  Luckily, help to safely relocate the colony was not far away. After his shift, Scott donned his beekeeper gear and went to work.


Scott, joined by environmental inspector Carrie Dovzak, started by filling the feral colony with smoke.  Smoke calms bees and masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees. The reaction created an opportunity for Scott and Carrie to open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction.


Scott carefully removed the bees from the hive using a bee capture container and a shopvac. Capturing the bees first makes it easier to remove the comb without having honey soaked bees and wax all over.  The honeycomb was removed from the wall and placed into moveable frame hives.


Once out of the wall and in their new hive, Scott moved the feral colony near his home.   The bees in the hive continue to thrive there … just away from an active construction site.





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