Bee expert knows his honey

Published: Wednesday, July 14 2010 12:26 a.m. MDT

After exposing the hive, Albert Chubak, a bee-removal expert, proceeds to clean the honeycomb out of the wall space of a Midvale building.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

MIDVALE — How does a beard of bees work?

Salt Lake City bee aficionado, Albert Chubak, knows the answer and it's a fairly simple one. Just put the queen bee under the chin in a small box and a swarm of bees will nestle around her.

Chubak is a bit of an expert around bees, as he should be after spending the last few years removing bees from homes and businesses for his company, Utah Bee Removal. He never flinches as they fly around his face and arms as he works.

"I compare bees to dolphins," Chubak said. "They're very temperate. They can be aggressive if forced to, but they're really mild. We usually look at bees as being like a wasp or hornet, but they're more like a shark."

Tuesday night was a fairly typical routine for him. Chubak peeled the boards of the side of an old building to reveal a hanging beehive neatly tucked into the side of the building. Not so neatly, thousands of bees started flying around the air as chunks of their home were disassembled and removed from the side of the wall. But Chubak's admiration for the hives shows.

James Williams rents the property Chubak spent de-beeing on Tuesday. It wasn't until workers saw a swarm of bees in the building two years ago that he realized there was a problem. Over the last two years, Chubak has removed three separate hives of bees from the same back wall.

"There was this ball of bees on the window, thousands," Williams said laughing. "They like this building."

Chubak has turned his growing bee removal business into another fast growing project. With 20,000 to 60,000 bees per hive, Chubak has 46 beehives that he collects honey and wax from. He uses the hives he collects from different sites to give the bees new homes.

Chubak said he loves his job and wishes he could make it full time. The actual job description has its messy bits though. Everything Chubak comes in contact with, from his tools to his clothes to the door handles on his truck, is speckled with sticky honey.

Chubak's sunny disposition seems to match the fact that he works with so much honey. His knowledge of the little critters seems endless. Male bees don't have stingers. Female bees do all the work in a hive, from protection to engineering to foraging. A queen bee lives for a few years, but a drone bee only lives up to six weeks.

The upside to the job, there is never a shortage of fresh honey. Chubak said honey has become like wine tasting for him, where he notices subtle nuances to the darkness and sweetness of varying honeys. And for living in the Beehive State, Chubak knows his honey.

e-mail: gbarker@desnews.com

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