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About 6,000 bees removed — safely — from Omaha home

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Thomas and Marylu Gouttierre have been planting bee-friendly flowers at their midtown property to attract and nourish the important pollinators.

They just didn’t expect them to move into their house, too.

“If you put your ears to the wall you could hear the buzzing,” said Thomas Gouttierre, the dean of International Studies and Programs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1974 to 2015. He was also the director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies.

Bees took advantage of the unusual exterior of the Gouttierre home, and entered through a hole in the mortar. Part of the house is covered in clinker bricks, which were fired in kilns and have become rare. That type of brick makes it harder to spot possibly needed repairs.

The bees had just recently started building a new home for themselves between the outside and the plaster and lath walls of a second-floor bedroom of the 100-year-old house.

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There were an estimated 6,000 bees in the wall.

The Gouttierres only noticed when they saw a large collection of bees flying outside their kitchen window and the one in the bedroom above. Further investigation found about 30 bees in the second-floor room, which likely came in through an old heat register.

The couple were never freaked out. They just shut the bedroom door and pondered their next move.

“Our first thought was should we call an exterminator,” Gouttierre said. “But we’ve been reading and there are a lot of great shows on PBS ‘Nature’ about how important bees are to pollinating the world in which we live.”

So instead they contacted Ryan Gilligan of Gilly’s Gold and Larry Cottle of Countryside Acres Aviary to remove the bees and move them to a better location. Both are members of the Omaha Bee Club.

Gouttierre said it only took a few hours for them to make a hole in the wall and gently vacuum the bees into a box for transport.

“Lo and behold, there were three perfectly shaped combs maybe about 2 inches thick and maybe about 9 inches in diameter,” Gouttierre said “If you have ever seen those, it’s remarkable. Each little space in the comb are perfectly engineered hexagonal shapes.”

The couple was even able to taste some of the honey.

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Some of the combs found in the walls of the Gouttierre home.

Gilligan said there were about 6,000 bees in the wall. The last home he did had 15,000. He’s removed them from houses, apartments, barns and trees in the past seven years.

“Larry sawed the square off. He’s really good with the multi-tool to perform the cuts,” Gilligan said. “I go in and do the removal of the bees.”

Cottle took the bees home to his acreage. The two men charged $600 for the procedure, which Gilligan said went smoothly.

Gouttierre said it’s been a fascinating adventure and a tale he’s had fun sharing with friends and family.

“I think in the long run, it’s made us appreciate all the more the value of bees,” he said, “and the importance of them to the process of pollination and all the things insects may do to help us eat.”

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Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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