News: JTF Guantanamo's Bee Whisperer
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Roy Wann, deployed with Arkansas Air Guard's 188th Air Tactical Fighter Wing, which is assigned to the 474th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron and supporting Joint Task Force Guantanamo, removes a piece of honeycomb before transplanting a bee colony away from a training location at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Oct. 13.
Back home, Wann is a member of the Western Arkansas — Eastern Oklahoma Beekeepers Association. The hobby that began after bees started a hive in his water meter box just over a year ago, is one he never thought he'd have to show off during his deployment to Joint Task Force Guantanamo at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, but when the chance came around, he was more than happy to share his knowledge.
A hive of bees was discovered in a fire training tower that was scheduled for repairs. Simply moving the hive was out of the question, and without Wann's bee know-how, it's very possible those bees' lives would have ended that day. Luckily for them, and for those around interested in bee keeping, Wann was there to save the day.
"I got lucky and was able to get my hands on a bee vacuum," said Wann.
A bee vacuum, which you can buy or find plans to make your own, is a special vacuum that allows bees to be collected, stored and safely transported to their new hive in Camp Justice. In this case, the new hive was one Wann built himself.
"I built the hive bodies from materials already here, but the frames that go inside the hives had to be sent from home," said Wann.
According to Josh Roach, in an article for National Geographic News, bees, via pollination, are responsible for 15-30 percent of the food U.S. consumers eat. But in the last 50 years, the domesticated honeybee population, which most farmers depend on for pollination, has declined by approximately 50 percent. This decline makes it even more important that there are people like Wann who know how to properly transport bees from places where they impede human life, to places they can live that are safe to both them and humans.
"Most people don't know that it's illegal to just kill bees," said Wann. "This is one of the reasons I got into trying to remove and relocate them. It's actually a side job back home."
Wann said not only is it important to safely remove them from where they are causing trouble, but also to make sure where you're taking them is a place they can thrive.
"You want to make sure there are enough food sources for them to eat and gather nectar to make honey," Wann said. "It's really not that hard, they pollinate just about everything."
Wann is happy that he's had the chance to work with bees in Guantanamo Bay and said he looks forward to going back home and sharing his experiences with fellow bee keepers.
For more information about Joint Task Force Guantanamo, visit the Web site at www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil.