SPRING HILL — Craig Krueger, owner of Krueger Heating and Air Conditioning in Spring Hill, knew he had some bees living in the business sign outside his shop on Lamson Avenue.

He didn’t know there could be up to a million of the little creatures there, however, until local bee wrangler Cody Trubic happened by one day after someone suggested he go check out bees hanging around the sign.

The massive bee count was revealed Oct. 15, when Trubic, owner of Honeywiththebees.com in Spring Hill, showed up to calm with smoke, capture and relocate the bees.

“I’ve known (the bees) were there for four or five years,” said Krueger. “I just didn’t know it was that bad.”

After he learned the problem might be bigger than expected, Krueger said he thought it best to have Trubic remove them.

“I was worried someone might bump into the sign,” he said. “It was a scary thing.”

Krueger’s fears might have been warranted. While bees generally leave people alone, they can attack if threatened, which is what happened the morning of the removal process.

“Four of my people were stung,” said Krueger, who sent everyone inside his shop for their safety. Hernando County deputies were called to the scene and two patrol cars blocked both side of the road leading to the shop and the bees.

“We had to get them (deputies) out here because people were walking up and down the street, including a lady with a baby carriage.”

Krueger took refuge in his truck, rolling the windows up to keep the bees out.

“He (Trubic) said when he uses smoke on them they usually calm down, but these were very aggressive and attacking,” Krueger said of the bees.

Trubic said he estimates there were up to a quarter-million bees in the sign. He worked diligently for several hours, using smoke to calm the bees as he gathered them up for transport. As for stings, Trubic can’t blame the bees, which he said are not nearly as dangerous as they often are portrayed; “they were just defending themselves.” Trubic took a few stings himself through the light protective suit he was wearing. It was all in a day’s work.

“I mostly deal with happy bees,” said Trubic, who blamed himself for not wearing a more protective suit.

The removal operation was successful, and the bees are now getting used to their new home away from the public, said Trubic. Any remaining bees near the shop were expected to eventually vacate the premises.

Trubic has been involved with bee keeping when he learned a few years ago that the honeybee population in the U.S. is in trouble. He said the problem is a combination of things, including bees being shipped to agricultural areas to pollinate crops. Pesticides used on the crops kill bees. Another problem is there are not enough wildflowers in many parts of the U.S. to feed the bee population, he said. Commercial and residential development, along with building thousands of miles of roads and massive parking lots mean fewer flowers, Trubic said.

His solution is to plant flowers and recruit more beekeepers to help cultivate the honeybee population.

Krueger said he learned a lot about the bee shortage during the removal operation and is glad the bees in his sign were not harmed.

“The bee population is down in America,” he said. “I didn’t want to kill them but relocate them.”

Kruger said he was told there isn’t much chance the bees will take up residence at his shop again, and the sign where they resided is so badly damaged he will be replacing it. He expects the ordeal of the shop-sign bees will make great storytelling for some time—stories he might even tell while gnawing on a chunk of sweet honeycomb harvested.