Groby chimney honeycomb housing 160,000 bees found

image source, Peter Clarke
image caption, The large colony of bees was found in a chimney behind a bricked-up fireplace

A couple who have bought a new home suffered a sting in the tail after 160,000 bees were discovered behind a bricked-up fireplace.

The colossal colony was found in a 15ft chimney in Groby, Leicestershire, by a beekeeper brought in to investigate "thousands" of dead insects.

Most of the bees have been moved using an adapted vacuum, but the queen needs moving so the hive stays functional.

Peter Clarke said he had been stung hundreds of times in the process.

image source, Peter Clarke
image caption, The honeycomb hive stretched from the base of the chimney to the top

According to the British Beekeepers Association, an average hive of honey bees is about 40,000-strong in the summer, and can fall to 5,000 in winter.

Mr Clarke, from Newbold Verdon, said he was first called to deal with the bees after a woman who bought the house contacted him for help after "thousands upon thousands" of dead bees were found inside the property.

"[She] didn't know anything about it when she purchased it in October," he said.

"She asked me to go round and see if there's anything to be done, and then to my horror, once I'd put a heat sensor device on and found out where they were located, everything just unfolded from there."

image source, Peter Clarke
image caption, About 20,000 bees are still to be moved, but the colony needs the queen to follow to stay functional

About 2ft of the hive still has to be removed, with about 20,000 bees estimated to still be in the chimney.

While the majority of the bees have now been moved, Mr Clarke's efforts have come at some personal cost, as he estimated he had been stung more than 100 times.

"You do feel a bit sick for half an hour," he said.

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