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Environment

'Bee-Whisperer' Promotes Protection Of Nature's Tiny Workers

One San Antonio woman is relieved that her bee problem is finally gone. But Norma Ramon now knows not to call any more exterminators if honey bees invade her home. She'll call the "Bee Whisperer."

After months of honey bees building a hive that grew to at least 4 feet by 2 feet, 150,000 bees would not go away even after exterminators tried to kill them off.

"I had a couple of companies come out and work on it and they tried their best, they really did, and nothing happened," she said.

The bees, especially that many, can be dangerous. But they are a vital part of the ecosystem. Walter Schumacher runs a non-profit called the American Honey Bee Protection Agency.

"In our country, we like to use poison to get rid of everything that makes us afraid or bugs us, in this case, the honey bee," he said. "For a species the U.S. government has said has declined by 33 to 35 percent, it's still legal to exterminate honey bees in America."

The Austin man is trying to change laws and is now working with San Antonio city leaders to ban killing honey bees.

Until then, he and his company removes bees safely throughout Texas. Five crews perform at least one bee removal a day.

After the bees are given time to heal from being cut out of their environment, the hive that invaded Ramon's home will move back to San Antonio and live at the Omni Hotel at the Colonnade in a 20,000 square foot living garden on the roof of the hotel. The Omni is one of Schumacher's biggest coroprate partners, which helps the non-profit itself survive.

"If we were to come and take the bees and just take them away with us, then we're no better than the exterminator because all we've done is eradicated the neighborhood of those honey bees," he said. "And the honey bees in this neighborhood, they pollinate that tree, and that tree, and these flowers and those vegetables."

Schumacher says bees are beautifully unique, and although potentially life threatening, he's doing his best to be at the forefront of education people about honey bees and their importance in our world.