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Industry in action: plan ‘bee’

Oilfield service workers tasked to decommission an old wellsite find a new home for a colony of bees.

When a crew from JSK Consulting Ltd. arrived to decommission an old well site near Wainwright, Alberta in the summer of 2019, they discovered about 30,000 honeybees had established a colony between the walls of a wooden gas-metering shack associated with the well. Working with the landowner, the crew learned a local farm couple wanted to get into honey production and already had empty bee boxes and other related tools and safety equipment. 

Under a careful safety plan devised by the work crew, the farmers pried apart the shack walls and, using special equipment, transferred bees and honeycomb into the waiting boxes. Critical to the operation was ensuring the queen had been transferred, so the entire colony population would follow and re-establish in the boxes. 

After waiting overnight, the decommissioning crew returned to find the colony had successfully relocated. The new bee farmers removed the boxes — and work continued to decommission the well site.

Adapted from the Orphan Well Association’s Annual Report 2019