About Rock’s FREE “Bee” Removal
Lee Rockafellow and son Travis are bee enthusiasts who won’t hesitate at the chance to get up close and personal to a nest filled with several hundred stinging hornets.
Lee Rockafellow lives a normal life, mostly……he is a father of six, retired pastor, successful teacher for many years, a retired educational consultant for the state of Michigan, and an expert in the field of bees. He resides in the quaint town of Perry, where he lives with his wife Beth. Behind the house, he raises a swarm of honeybees.
Among the six children, Travis has shown a great deal of interest in the family part-time summer job\hobby. Travis, also a teacher, finds the summer work intriguing filled with unexpected twists and strange challenges. Over forty years of collecting nests free of charge, they’ve seen it all: a nest totally enclosed around several dishes in a elderly woman’s pantry, a hornet nest started on the inside of a bird house and over several weeks, magically making the bird house disappear, a nest under a seat of a patio set ready to surprise a nearby picnicker, and nests so big it could hide a human standing behind it.
How are nests removed?
Insects are collected at night to ensure all hornets have returned to their nest. The duo receives dozens of calls throughout the summer, quickly coming to the aid of several people in total disarray, stressed with the menace at hand. Although not naturally aggressive to humans, these stinging insects will attack if their nest is being threatened (mainly if the nest in the way of human traffic and\or vulnerable to vibrations). Many times these hornets and yellow jackets choose places to reside that are inconvenient to homeowners.
Hornet nests are carefully plucked from a tree limb, the peak of a house, under a deck, or any number of unimaginable places. The enclosed paper nests are made of chewed-up pieces of wood, which are prepared by the worker hornet or yellow jacket. The round or oval-shaped enclosed paper nests are captured with speciality equipment. Yellow jacket nests are carefully captured by way of vacuum and custom-made traps, mostly during the day. Normally yellow jackets reside in ground or hidden inside a structure which makes them more difficult to capture and remove.
Insects are carefully sorted from the nests, debris is cleaned off the insects and the workers and queens, who have the desired venom, are separated from the drone or male bees (which lack the venom). Hornets are placed in plastic freezer bags, weighed, and sorted according to the specific bee insects species.
What are nests used for?
At the end of the season, the end of October, the Rockafellows send out their prize possessions to a laboratory where the venom is extracted from each bee, one at a time. The process is tiresome and tedious, but the end result helps many people who are allergic to the powerful sting. The venom is used to create a serum to help ensure a more mild reaction, thus keeping more people out of the hospital.
Lee’s grandfather sparked an early interest by raising honeybees at a nearby farm. Relying on memories with his grandfather and his fearless nature, Lee decided to take on the responsibility of raising his own honeybees. A few years later, Lee Rockafellow would expand his new hobby into a part-time summer job. The job description was found while reading an article out of a honeybee magazine. Wanted: Stinging hornet collector. Instantly he was hooked. However, the first few years proved to be a struggle, he learned the hard way, mostly by trial and error, when collecting some of the very first nests.
One time Rockafellow used a plastic garbage bag to capture the nest of raging hornets, only to discover the insects chewed their way through the plastic, and reeked havoc on his entire family in their ”bee mobile”. Many times he tried cutting too many branches, which sent out angry hornets in attack mode. His children learned quickly that holding the flashlight would most certainly ensure “the kiss of death”, as the insects gravitated toward the light. Other times Lee would awkwardly hang over a roof top, desperately reaching for a huge nest strongly attached just under the eaves of a house.
What's the future of Rock's "Bee" Removal?
Over the years, Lee has passed down his years of experience and hornet/yellow jacket knowledge to his son, Travis. Travis Rockafellow plans to carry on the family legacy. The two have perfected the art of collecting the unique nests, but will admit that they learn something new every year.