WILLIAMSBURG – When Tawanda Hammond relocated her cake business from Norge to Williamsburg in April, she figured her troubles were behind her.
This week she found she had a new problem. In fact, about 20,000 of them. Bees had infested her shop in the WHRO building on Richmond Road.
After re-opening Cakes by Tawanda in April, Hammond noticed a few bees in the front window and around her light fixtures. She assumed they were coming from bushes just outside the building, until one night she saw approximately 300 bees buzzing around an upstairs window, apparently returning to their hive for the night.
An exterminator identified the insects as common honey bees. But because of their status as an endangered species, a bee keeper had to be called to extract and relocate them.
Local bee keeper Joey Crump came to the shop Tuesday night. Moving the bees has to take place when the insects are inactive. They return to their hives at night.
He pulled up the floorboards, then promptly filled a garbage bag and a five-gallon bucket with honey and pieces of hive. He told Hammond there were at least 20,000 bees, and that he would have to return to finish the job the next evening because his boxes weren’t big enough to hold them all.
“At least the honey was delicious,” Hammond mused.
She couldn’t open the cake shop Wednesday due to bees swarming in the windows and doorway. A “Closed,” sign hung on the door. Hammond tacked on another that read “Bee safe.”
“I’d rather go ahead and take care of it now than have the hive become huge and fall through the ceiling,” she said. “That would be a whole new issue.”
The bee hive was Hammond’s second business mishap this year. In late January, while her store was located in Norge, she arrived at the shop one morning to discover the pipes had burst and the building flooded.
“At least this incident has been sweeter,” she said.
Though the bees make her nervous, Hammond remains positive. “It has been amazing to see nature at work” she said. “I have never seen anything like this in my life.”
Hammond said Thursday evening that she expects to reopen the store on Friday.
Holtgrieve can be reached at 757-345-2346