By Anna Lothson
The 100 block of North Elmwood Avenue was buzzing with extra activity on July 25.
The commotion, however, started around 6 a.m. on July 24 when a storm swept through the area — taking down a hefty-sized tree in the front yard of the Steketee family home.
The situation could have been disastrous for a homeowner, but it turned into a sweet surprise when Tina and John Steketee and their 9-year-old son, Jack, discovered a beehive inside the toppled tree.
Tina said they heard and felt the effects of the tree falling in the early morning hours. When they ran out to see what happened, they found a colony of bees peacefully nestled in the tree.
They started taking pictures, which awoke the colony, and the family quickly ran inside to call friends and neighbors to see their newest front-yard nature scene.
"We were in awe," Tina said. "I've never seen a honeycomb so large."
A handyman in the area, Bruce Faland, got word of the bee discovery and stopped by to ask if he, a bee advocate and beekeeper, could save the bees and have them transported. The Stekettes agreed and first thing Wednesday morning the crews got to work collecting honey and vacuuming up the remaining bees to transfer to a new colony.
A member of Cook DuPage Beekeepers Association took on the tough job of gathering the honey makers, though the bees didn't seem to notice the keeper's presence as he collected the estimated 15,000 bees.
Faland said it's rare to see so many honeybees survive this long in the state they were found. Honeybees are not as common as they once were, he said, and typically they would have died off almost instantly when the tree came apart.
"This is a pretty strong hive," he said, adding that he jumped at the chance to save them since large hives are a rarer and rarer find.
"Everything on the planet depends on bee's pollination," Faland observed.