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Odd Job: The Beekeeper

By Michael Crane


Belton, Mo. – Rod Richter has been interested in bees since his childhood. A firefighter by trade, Richter is a part time beekeeper, with emphasis on the word keeper. He is not a bee exterminator but a bee re-locator.

For the last three years, Richter has been collecting honey bees. On his property in Harrisonville, Mo., he has 10 hives of bees, all churning out honey. He got a call last week from a woman, who said a swarm of bees had taken up residence in her backyard. KCUR's Michael Crane caught up with Richter in Belton, Mo., to catch a swarm of bees.

Richter drives into a suburban neighborhood in Belton. He steps out of his SUV to greet Leslie Mederos, who he only talked to that morning. She says the swarm of bees are in the backyard. Stepping into the backyard, Richter sees thousands of bees trying to make a home out of a bird feeder. "That's about 12,000 bees," he says.

After donning a bee suit and grabbing a five gallon bucket, Richter simply lifts the bird feeder off the latch and places it in the bucket. The craziest part: no one got stung.

Richter says when bees are in a swarm like this, and they have no brood to protect, they're not aggressive. "They are just as docile as docile can be," he says. "It's not about bee having, it's about bee keeping."

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

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