Orient beekeeper abuzz over AEP rescue operation

A utility pole replacement transformed into a bee rescue operation after AEP workers discovered a hive of bees. High atop a 90-foot utility pole set to be retired just south of Circleville, Ohio.

The Scippo Extension 138kV Rebuild Project is rebuilding an existing mile-long 138 kV transmission line on new and existing right-of-way.

AEP employees are trained to spot potential hazards before work begins. So when they found the hive tucked into an old woodpecker hole last October, they immediately began working on a plan to remove the bees quickly and safely.

Who better to call than a beekeeper? They contacted John Jude, a member of the Scioto Valley Beekeepers Association. Jude took up beekeeping in the spring after reading about the dwindling number of bees – and beekeepers – in the United States. He also was concerned that apiaries, another word for a place where beehives and honey are kept, are getting harder to find.

Bees are critical to the balance of nature because they are pollinators – and most crops require pollination. A Michigan State University study said bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food humans consume.

Jude said he was delighted to get the call from AEP, and readily agreed to take the beehive.

One Sunday morning in October, Jude and AEP workers met at the hive and got to work. One worker was raised by bucket truck to secure the hive opening with a thin piece of cloth to keep the bees inside during their trip to Orient, about 30 miles away. Certain the bees were safe, workers then cut the pole with a chainsaw and gently hoisted it onto a truck to be delivered to Jude’s home. There, the crew erected the pole and removed the cloth.

The AEP workers did the right thing by being a good environmental steward. The crews were able to adapt when they spotted the beehive and saved the bees.

AEP policy always focuses on the values of integrity and stewardship, urges workers to adapt to each situation and to cause zero harm in the field.