All A-Buzz at St. John's Church

St. John’s Catholic Church at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP was built in 1858 and served the community until 1925. Although regular services are no longer held in the church, the sanctuary plays host to the occasional wedding or memorial service. These days the building sees more use from the local wildlife.

Woodpeckers find the siding to their liking and deposit acorns within the walls. The church is also a perennial favorite of bees. The little honey makers gain access to the spaces between the siding and the interior walls through the holes made by woodpeckers. Once between the walls, they have a comfy space to build honeycombs and raise their brood. Despite efforts to remove the bees each year, they always come back.

This year was no different, except that there seemed to be two entry points instead of the usual one. Having lost contact with the previous beekeeper, Park Maintenance Supervisor Pat Metcalf put out feelers looking for someone who could remove this year’s hive. He didn’t have to look far. Marv Curry, a park aide at Auburn SRA, was interested in taking the hive.

Marv spent a couple of days at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP with Worker 1 Brian Kallen as he removed siding from the church to expose the hives. The first was easy to access, and Marv gathered the bees into a box to be transported to his property in Placer County. The second hive took a little longer to locate. With each piece of siding that was removed a new cache of acorns was discovered. Those woodpeckers have been busy!

The second hive was finally located and beekeeper and park docent Joanne Allen scurried up the scaffolding to gather the honeycombs into her waiting bee box. The entire operation was quite a spectacle.

The carpentry shop at Marshall Gold Discovery SHP is currently milling the lumber to replace the siding that was removed. The exposed areas will be treated and covered with Tyvec and the siding replaced. Woodpecker holes in the remaining siding will be patched with restoration grade material to discourage future intrusions.

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