Beekeeper removes swarm from Lake County sheriff's office parking lot

  • Beekeeper Willie Pilipauskas, 31, was called to move a swarm of bees from a reserved parking sign and a nearby car outside of the Lake County sheriff's headquarters in Waukegan Monday.

    Beekeeper Willie Pilipauskas, 31, was called to move a swarm of bees from a reserved parking sign and a nearby car outside of the Lake County sheriff's headquarters in Waukegan Monday. COURTESY OF THE LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

  • Bees swarm a reserved parking sign in a lot outside the Lake County sheriff's headquarters in Waukegan on Monday. Beekeeper Willie Pilipauskas said the bees were very docile because they were waiting to pick a new place to build a hive.

    Bees swarm a reserved parking sign in a lot outside the Lake County sheriff's headquarters in Waukegan on Monday. Beekeeper Willie Pilipauskas said the bees were very docile because they were waiting to pick a new place to build a hive. COURTESY OF THE LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

 
 
Updated 7/28/2020 5:30 PM

The sight of hundreds of honeybees swarming a reserved parking sign and nearby car outside of the Lake County sheriff's headquarters in Waukegan Monday likely shocked some people.

But police called beekeeper Willie Pilipauskas, who put on a mosquito net and scooped all of the bees into a bucket with his bare hands. He said there were about 15,000 bees in his bucket by the time he left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After making sure the queen bee was also in the bucket, Pilipauskas, 31, drove the swarm to their new home in one of the hundreds of wood-frame honeybee hives he maintains. He said the bees now live near Antioch.

"It'll be a good home for them. It's out by the Chain (O' Lakes), so they'll be by the water and it's in the woods," Pilipauskas said.

Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Covelli said no one was stung.

Pilipauskas, whose company, Willie's Bees, manages 600 to 700 colonies in the Lake and McHenry county area, said swarming bees are very docile because they are trying to keep a low-profile.

Swarms occur when a beehive is reproducing. The bees will find a place to hang out, usually on a plant, while they wait for scout bees to look for somewhere permanent to set up shop, Pilipauskas said.

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"I don't normally get fun ones like a sign -- normally it's a tree branch 50 feet off the ground," he said.

Calls to remove swarms usually come in May or June, but the weather this year means it is peak de-swarming season now, Pilipauskas said. He's had 10 to 15 calls in the last 10 days, he said.

He recommended people who see swarms contact beekeepers right away.

"A lot of pest control companies will tell people to leave bee swarms alone," Pilipauskas said. "But if you don't get to swarms when they are transient, they could go into a home and build a hive there."

Removing bees from a building can be expensive because it may involve demolishing walls, he said.

Pilipauskas' company also sells honey, beeswax and offers mentorship and lessons to aspiring beekeepers. He said he doesn't charge for swarm removal but does sometimes ask for gas money.

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