More Than 25 Thousand Honeybees Found at Demolition Project Re-homed in Baltimore

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District safely rehomed 25-30k honeybees that were found during abatement and demolition services at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Beltsville, Md., July 26, 2023.

The work at the BARC is in support of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) replacement currency production facility, and Baltimore District’s Program and Project Management Division (PPMD) located the honeybees while assisting with the disposition of excess real property at the site.

After discovering the bees, the team contacted the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Maryland Beekeepers Association for assistance, and Baltimore’s Bee Friendly Apiary was able to visit the site and remove the hives within a week.

Bill Castro, the owner and head beekeeper at Bee Friendly Apiary, vacuumed the bees into a bee box, broke off the wax combs, and salvaged approximately 40 pounds of honey before taking everything to the apiary in Baltimore. Once at the apiary, the honeycomb will be attached to the frames of a beekeeping box where the bees will be released and immediately recognize their hive

With the bees quickly removed, abatement and demolition was able to continue on schedule. Site preparation for the BEP replacement currency production facility at BARC will continue through 2023, and construction is scheduled to start in 2024.

Honeycombs are vacuumed to extract bees prior to their storage during extraction. (USACE photo by Nicole Strong)
Honeycombs are vacuumed to extract bees prior to their storage during extraction. (USACE photo by Nicole Strong)

“Every single person we interacted with at Baltimore District, the state agencies, and the contractor/subcontractor personnel all wanted to see the honeybees rehomed safely rather than destroyed,” said Sal Van Wert, Baltimore District project manager. “It was really fulfilling to witness.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District, are collaborating on the BEP replacement currency production facility at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). USACE signed an interagency agreement with the BEP in March 2019 to coordinate this replacement effort, including environmental assessments and design and construction oversight for the main facility and supporting structures, parking and stormwater management facilities, roadway access and improvements, utility connections, security systems, and access control.

Bill Castro, beekeeper, cuts honeycomb during extraction. (USACE photo by Nicole Strong)
Bill Castro, beekeeper, cuts honeycomb during extraction. (USACE photo by Nicole Strong)

The BEP is responsible for designing and printing U.S. currency notes at the request of the Federal Reserve Board. BEP currently operates currency production facilities in Washington, D.C. and Fort Worth, Texas. BEP’s current Washington, D.C. facility is more than 100 years old and limits BEP’s ability to modernize its operations, so BEP, in coordination with USACE, is planning the construction and operation of a more efficient, modern facility at BARC to meet currency production needs.

Learn more about the project here: https://www.nab.usace.army.mil/BEP/

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