Bee-utiful Birthday

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Harlon Jordan celebrated his 79th birthday Tuesday with about40,000 of his newest friends during a surprise party at a localbusiness.

There were no gifts and the guests actually arrived early tobuzz around the dark recesses of a boat trailer tongue atMississippi Marine on Highway 84. Still, Jordan was all smiles ashe tended to his newest friends.

“Good birthday party,” Jordan said as he took a break from thebrief afternoon activity.

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Jordan was the center of attention as he went about collectingthe bees that would go back to his home in southeastern LincolnCounty.

“To me, it’s an old thing, but I always have an audience,”Jordan said as he went back to work.

Business employees and customers stopped for a few minutes todiscuss the bees and watch Jordan work.

Also garnering a few comments was the device he used to gatherthe bees. Jordan called the piece of equipment a “bee getter,”which is actually a converted parking lot sweeper.

Jordan built the device in 1995. He said he initially tested iton yellow jackets, hornets and wasps.

“It didn’t kill any of them, so I said I’ll try it with bees,”said Jordan, who’s been dealing with bees since 1994.

Jordan explained that the bees do not understand what ishappening when the vacuum is on. By the time they do, he said, theyare captured.

Jordan called Tuesday’s gathering a “good swarm.” He estimatedhe had collected about 40,000 bees.

“There’s about 3 to 4 pounds in there,” said Jordan, referringto the holding box at the other end of the white vacuum tube.

While Jordan was able to collect most of Tuesday’s swarm fairlyquickly, he said it can take four to five hours to remove bees fromtrailers and other structures.

Mississippi Marine manager Mickey Garon said this year was thesecond in a row that a bee hive had gathered at the dealership. Hespeculated that the black boat, shade and trailer tongue crevicesmade for an attractive bee home.

“I think the dark trailer and the little holes under it … darkcolors,” Garon said.

Garon was pleased to learn the queen bee was among the firstcaptors with Jordan’s device. Jordan said whatever bees remainedwhen he was done would disperse in a few days.

“As long as you’ve got the queen, it’s over with,” Garonsaid.