HILLSIDE — The man known as "Mickey the Beekeeper" has responded to calls all over the tri-state area to help people with their bee problems, but even he was surprised to find tens of thousands of bees inside the walls of a township home on Saturday.

"I really didn't realize until I opened the wall how many bees are in there and how aggressive that colony was," he said. "It was quite amazing and they were very aggressive bees."

Even with 30,000 bees hiding inside the walls of the Morris Place house, the beekeeper said he could not hear the buzz some might expect them to make. Using a special videoscope, Mickey said he was able to see inside the walls to get a better sense of what he was facing. The Hillside swarm he said was second only to another home he worked at once that had close to 60,000 bees on the rooftop.

"What really surprised me about this one was how aggressive the bees were," he said.

Despite the dangers associated with aggressive bees, one advantage Mickey said he sees sometimes is that they can make better honey. The bees in this home had made close to 40 pounds of honey.

"That's the only drawback with the really aggressive bees, is that their aggressiveness, but the nice thing is they make a lot of honey and it's delicious honey, too."

The aggressiveness of the bees also meant 30 stings piercing Mickey's equipment as he worked to clear the bees from the home. He said with a special vacuum he was able to remove the "first five to 10,000 bees" before he started to remove the honeycomb they had built. Most of the comb he saves for the bees to help get them through the winter. The rest, he said, stays with the homeowner to enjoy some sweet rewards from the experience.

"This is the first time I've been stung more than a half a dozen times," he said. "That was my first sign that they were very aggressive."

After getting the bees out of the house and loaded into his car in specialized boxes, Mickey took the bees to a church in Roselle Park that had lost its hive. He said whether the bees will stay there to produce honey for the church will depend on whether they are too aggressive for the needs of the church.

Whether the bees stay there or go somewhere else, Mickey said at the very least the homeowner can know the bees are gone and should stay gone.

"They're done," he said. "I sealed up the hole, the entrance where they're coming in and out. I've taken the bees more than two miles away, which is generally their foraging area. I let them out somewhere far from where they came from."

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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