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Massive beehive removed from the roof of historic Fort Smith church

The bees had already left their hive on the roof of St. John's Episcopal Church, but beekeepers removed the hive left behind.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — A storm in May of 2021 damaged the roof at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Smith and while it was being inspected, the roofing company discovered bees. Beekeepers went up on the roof Monday, March 28, to move them, but they were gone. 

“We thought it was going to be kind of fun to watch a beekeeper actually go through the process of properly removing them and then we found out they had been vacated by these hive beetles which we didn’t know about either,” Mike Smets said. 

Last summer Elite Roofing was doing an inspection on the roof after the storm and using thermal imaging on a drone to look for leaks, they found a two-by-six spot that turned out to be a beehive. 

“There’s a bunch of us that have been doing roofing for a long time and that’s the first time we’ve run across honeybees in a roof," said Tyler Reams, Elite Roofing project manager. "They usually like areas that are a little bit tighter, but the way the church’s roof is set up, it was perfect for them I guess."

Reams says they called a beekeeper who told them they needed to wait for good weather to move the bees. They started when it was still dark because the beekeepers say that’s when they are the calmest. 

"We run across wasps a lot, We’ve done bats, critters we’re pretty used to, squirrels, stuff like that. You get to a point though where nothing surprises you anymore," Reams said. 

The beekeepers were able to move the hive from the roof but there was no need to preserve it since there were no bees left. 

“When we first discovered bees were in the attic our parishioners were very adamant that the bees not be destroyed because we are keepers of all of God’s creations big and small," Al Snider said. "So, we serve our community in several ways, and we wanted to protect the bees."

Bees continue to come back to the roof, but the beekeeper who was helping this morning says these bees are likely not the same bees that were living in the roof. 

St. John’s Episcopal Church has been a big contributor to the city of Fort Smith. The original church was built in the 1800s and was the first hospital in Fort Smith. Today, they serve sack lunches to those in need as well as help those in need in many other ways. 

RELATED: Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series bringing free concerts to the River Valley

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