We think of our homes as safe and secure, the place we go after a long day at work, a place of repose, a place to chill. But what if an uninvited guest is lurking within your wall where you can’t see it? Suddenly, the idea of the sanctity of home is upended. Nobody wants to worry about intruders that may or may not be dangerous, living in our space. But that’s exactly what happened to this family. You won’t believe what they found staying on as an uninvited house guest.
Something is Alive Behind the Wall
It was late September. The Tennessee family knew something was living inside their kitchen wall. One problem: They could not figure out what it was. The family heard strange noises coming from inside the wall. It sounded sort of like scratching, but not exactly. Something was definitely alive in there, and the Germantown family wanted it out.
Perhaps a family of forest critters was trapped in there. What if they all died? The family looked into calling a local pest control expert.
Maybe It's Rats!
Rodents, squirrels, and chipmunks often find their way into a nice warm house. The creatures build a burrow, usually during the winter. Most rodents make a nest and have a collection of acorns, nuts, and other found items.
But since it was the end of September, burrowing season had not yet begun. And the noises had been going on all year. What could it be?
Could It Be Bugs?
It could be anything. Whatever it was, the family agreed it sounded somewhat like a buzzing noise coming from the wall. It was a scratching, humming noise, a noise insects might make. If it’s a nest of bugs, a pest control company should be able to get rid of them easily enough.
Consulting the sea of extermination companies advertised online, the family found a local pest control service and made an appointment. The serviceman showed up with tanks of chemicals he promised would kill them all and end their worries. He sprayed in and around the wall from the outside. The family thanked him for his services, and he was on his way.
Problem Solved. Right?
Not even close. The bustling insect sounds grew louder, as if the deadly poison merely angered the nest. The family realized they had a serious problem on their hands and searched for an insect control professional who could manage the resilient uninvited house guests who took up residence in their wall.
Right back where they started, the frustrated family ramped up their search to find a pest control expert who could get rid of the critters in the wall. Finally, they spoke with someone who seemed to know exactly what the problem was. They explained the sounds and the failed extermination attempt by the other company. His name was David Glover and he assured them that he was their man.
The 'Bartlett Bee Whisperer'
David Glover is a bee expert from Bartlett, Tennessee. He is known in the area as the Bartlett Bee Whisperer because of his affinity for solving bee issues. He removes about 250 hives a year. But he is also an expert at eliminating any infestation and has been in the business since 2009.
Geared up and ready to go, David Glover got right to work. Whatever was thriving inside the family’s home, Glover was prepared to remove it. After years of treating the whole spectrum of pest issues, he was ready to tackle anything. Little did he know that he was about to confront a problem the scale of which he had never encountered.
Determining the Entry Point
The outside wall to the kitchen was made of brick. Glover started there. He inspected the brick wall for a point of entrance. The pests had to be coming from outside. The wall looked solid, but as he began to look over it, he discovered what is called a weep hole. A weep hole is where water has settled and created an erosion point.
In the picture above you can see where the weep hole is. It’s the dark spot located on the lower center area of the wall. As he inspected the wall, he also found an entry point at the corner of the window. The pests had an entry and exit point.
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer Digs into His High-tech Toolbox
No one cares too much about a tiny, little dark spot on their brick wall until, that is, it turns out to be an open door to unwanted visitors. Glover had all the tools he needed to discover exactly which kind of unwanted visitor lurked inside. To see what was going on, he used an infrared camera.
With this specialized camera, he took a thermal scan of the area between the entry points. The camera detects heat and creates a visual picture of how the heat behaves. Glover was stunned. The size of the infrared imaging showed a larger infestation than even he, with all his experience, could imagine.
The next tool he pulled out from his toolbox was an old-fashioned pest control device called a smoker. Hopefully this would drive some of the visitors away.
He was being very cautious, especially because of the size of this thing. Plus, these bugs might bite! He covered himself in protective clothing.
Removing the Bricks
Glover’s plan was to remove the bricks, one by one. The smoke served to stun the buggers while he dismantled their home. The first brick he removed was the one nearest the weep hole.
“The first thing I did after smoking the entrances was to spray some Honey Bandit in the small hole I’m drilling in this photo,” Glover said. “That helped keep the bees from running up the wall when I kicked on the hammer drill.” Once he pried the first brick off, he knew for certain what sort of pest problem this family was dealing with.
Busy, Busy Bees
With the brick removed, a clear sign of bees was revealed. A honeycomb. As an expert, he knew an entire hive of honeybees were in there. The infrared camera indicated that the hive was very large, larger than Glover had ever dealt with in all his years removing bees.
His service includes relocating the hive to local bee farmers around the state. Glover is proud of his work saving honeybees. He says they are vital for crops. The Bartlett Bee Whisperer told local news WREG, “One-third of what we eat comes because of pollination. 85% of the plants in the world exist because of pollination.”
Bees, Bees and More Bees
One at a time, Glover removed the bricks. Several minutes later he had successfully chiseled out two rows of bricks. His work seemed to hardly put a dent into the complete job. With the size and thickness of this honeycomb, he realized why the original pest control company failed to exterminate the bees. Glover said the heavy layer of wax prevented the pesticide from spreading. Good thing! While many pest control companies exterminate bee hives, he doesn’t believe in killing honeybees.
Meanwhile, he wondered, ‘Exactly how much bigger is this thing?!’
The True Size Revealed
Five rows of bricks later, Glover determined the edges of the massive comb and had a true sense of the hive’s enormity. It was the largest beehive he had ever dealt with, and it was the largest hive inside of a wall he had ever seen. “Every once in a while, I get a call that makes me cringe,” Glover said. But, as he later reported on his Facebook page, even though he was dreading removing the bricks, what was revealed was "AWESOME!".
The story went viral. It amassed over 100,000 shares in just one week. This hive held 35,000 bees and measured three feet high, by five feet wide. He estimated that it was about two years old.
Pest Control Damage Report
Not all pest problems are easily managed. This one required dismantling a side of the house. “I prefer to be minimally invasive when removing honey bees from buildings. I don’t like taking out bricks. Will the mortar chip out? Or will the bricks crumble? Will the combs be usable once the bricks are out of the way?”
It all worked out, and the homeowner was happy that the bees were removed and were able to be relocated. Those uninvited guests were officially evicted. It took the Bee Whisperer four hours to complete the labor-intensive work of removing the bees and cleaning the wall.
A Healthy Hive
These bees were producing enough honey to feed countless generations of bees. This hive housed a total of thirteen capped queen cells. Each of these cells held a live virgin queen bee. This meant that this hive was not only huge, it was also surprisingly active.
In just a few weeks, it would have doubled in size! If the family waited any longer, the wall damage could have been significant. Grover declined to identify the homeowner by name but reported her shocked reaction.
Assessing the Damage of the Insect Poison
Though a wall of wax protected the majority of the hive from extermination, on the far-left side of the lower end of the hive, Glover noticed a small pile of dead bees. It appeared that the deadly chemicals had destroyed some worker drones, but, in the end, those sacrifices were insignificant.
On his website, the Bartlett Bee Whisperer explains that using pesticides wastes all the honey and wax, killing the bees that, if relocated, could be used to pollinate people's food.
Relocating the Hive
Now that Glover had mitigated the damage to the family’s home, he was ready to move on to the relocating part of his job. Bee populations have been shrinking so drastically over the last 15 years that researchers have named it Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD is affecting $20 billion worth of U.S. crop production annually, according to ABC News. Worldwide it’s just as much of a problem.
Glover is in the business of relocating hives. He knows fruit farmers and beekeepers in the area who will take them in. He moves them to a place where they are welcome.
A Maze of Intricate Tunnels
Glover cautiously removed every section of the honeycomb. What he saw surprised him. The Bartlett Bee Whisperer thought he had seen every kind of hive there was. But this one was gigantic. Not only that, but this hive contained a tunneling section that was simply amazing. Glover couldn’t get over the way the bees had built the honeycomb.
Without any other explanation, Glover jokingly exclaimed, “The construction crew in this part of the hive was dropping acid.”
Bees of Peace
All the while, as Glover dismantled the bees home, the little buzzers stayed calm. We usually think of bees angrily attacking with blazing stings, but Glover said the hive was more cooperative than he expected. A few bees even rested on his shoulder, observing the process.
The bees who had their queen removed were also calm. They seemed curious and confused as they buzzed over and around the strange box that contained their queen.
Removing 35,000 bees from a brick wall is a big job. In this case, it required tearing open a 3’x5’ section of the wall. That was quite a project, but then the cleanup work begins. It’s remarkable that it only took four hours to complete the work.
Glover says that most people think a beehive is as big as a wasp's nest, but they have no idea the magnitude of what bees are capable of doing. It’s a good thing the family called him before the hive doubled in size!
A Temporary Hive
Glover was putting the final touches on his clean up job. He left a white metal box at the entry point. This way, when worker bees return from collecting pollen, they’ll have a place to go.
Then he’ll pick up those stragglers later. Some bees may have been frightened off in the removal process.
The Bees Left Their Mark
On the inside of the wall, behind the bricks, you can see a large, round mark. The sprawling stain was made from honey. It got there after millions of tiny feet left honey imprints on the wall.
Glover joked, “Kind of cool when you think about all the times your mom told you to wipe your feet before coming into the house.”
Taking the Hive to Its New Home
The Bartlett Bee Whisperer relocated this hive to his backyard. He said he hoped the hive would integrate with an existing hive. There could be honey by the following year if the integration goes well.
Glover said that honey bees are essential to ecosystems worldwide. “We need them working for us,” Glover explained.
Save the Bees!
Bees are the world’s most important pollinator. Experts say that 80% of crops are dependent upon honey bees. As the most hardworking insect, the bee is busy all day long transferring pollen from one blossom to the next. The pollination brings us fruits and vegetables. But not only that, it also brings us honey.
With worldwide honey bee population numbers falling, people like Glover are doing all they can to protect honey bees and ecosystems that we all depend on.
A True Pest Emergency
Read on to hear the story of a family who had a considerably larger problem moving into their home.
This was far more dangerous than a beehive inside the wall, no matter how big it was!
A Scary Snake Story
Most people are afraid of snakes even though many are harmless. There are over 3,000 species of the suborder Serpentes around the world. If you want to live in an area that doesn’t have snakes, you can move to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Antarctica, or New Zealand.
Out of the 3,000 species, just 600 are venomous. And, out of those slithery venom-producing serpents, only 7% can kill a human. But watch out for the python. A python is not venomous. It is an enormous constrictor snake. This means it can strangle and kill a human in minutes and swallow them whole in one hour. A fear of snakes seems reasonable enough to this researcher.
It's Good to Know a Snake Expert
This is Vern Lovic. He is a snake enthusiast who lives in Southern Thailand. He’s written three books about snakes, including 'Keep Snakes Out: 35 Tips to Keep Snakes Off Your Property'.
In Southern Thailand, Lovic is the go-to guy for any snake issue. He is the uncontested expert in Thai snakes, and he has been rescuing snakes from people’s homes for well over a decade. In Thailand, there are over 220 snake species, and he has seen them all.
Who You Gonna Call?
In the case of bee infestations, David Glover was the man to call. In Thailand, Lovic is the best of the best. You need to be trained to manage certain snakes. The snakes he deals with are potentially deadly, and he is one of the few people equipped to handle those types of infestations.
One day, Lovic’s friend had a snake problem. He knew exactly who to call and gave the snake expert a ring. Lovic came over right away.
Essential Snake Removal Equipment
Once Lovic arrived and assessed the situation, he discovered that his friend’s snake problem was serious. Immediately, he fetched his snake removal gear and went to work. Nothing in Lovic’s toolbox was as high-tech as an infrared camera, but he did have a set of tools specialized for handling snakes. He had a snake hook, a pair of tongs, and a clear bag made of strong, reinforced plastic. The tongs enable him to grab the slithering reptile and place it in the bag.
The hook is used for snagging a snake without injuring it and is helpful with larger snakes that are too heavy or fat to be managed with tongs. But snake handling equipment is useless in the wrong hands. Lovic has the experience and know-how to remediate any snake issue. Or did he? Looking around his friend’s house, it was becoming apparent that he had more than a serious problem on his hands, it was deadly serious. Lovic was about to find out the extent.
Where Do Snakes Hide?
Snakes squiggle and squirm into any tight spot they can find. They will hide out in vents, dark corners, inside your drawers and shoes. Lovic knows where to look for snakes.
He headed to the bathroom.
The Number One Favorite Place Thai Snakes Hide...
The toilet. Snakes are a huge problem in Thailand. In Bangkok, firemen respond to more snake rescues than fires. Quite a bit more! During the rainy season, firefighters receive up to 200 calls per day. Fires account for about five calls per day. The biggest problem is pythons. Seventy percent of all snake calls are for pythons. Yes, those, the 15-foot-long beasts that can kill a human with efficiency.
Lovic lifted the lid and looked in the toilet. Getting bit while using the toilet is a real fear in Thailand. One man nearly lost his organ of manhood due to sitting on a python-infested toilet. That’s when Lovic spotted it. The squiggly critter was not in the toilet, but it was squirming of the wall in the corner of the bathroom. It was not good news.
One of These Snakes Meant Many More
Finding a baby cobra is a bad sign. Cobras lay 60 or more eggs at a time. Discovering a single hatchling portended a much larger infestation than Lovic anticipated. And still, the mother snake is on the loose. It keeps getting worse.
These cobras are monocled cobras—the most venomous snake in Thailand. It’s also the most common snake in Thailand. Just one bite by a monocled cobra and death is quick and painful. Lovic snagged one snake, secured it in the bag, and went off hunting for the rest.
A Bag of Snakes
There were 37,000 reports of snake invasions in Bangkok homes in 2018. Surprisingly, in all of Thailand, snake bite deaths are rare. There are only about a dozen venomous snake fatalities a year. An antidote for the venom is readily available in Thailand, and most people get to the hospital in time.
Lovic continued filling his bag with baby cobras. He was set on protecting this family.
How Many Bags Would He Need?
Lovic searched the bathroom. In all, he captured twelve baby monocled cobras. All of these were found in one tiny room! What would he find in the rest of the house?? He moved on with trepidation.
Maybe one bag was not going to be enough.
Into the Next Room
With tools in hand, Lovic stealthily entered another room. He walked as lightly as possible as not to alert the tiny wiggling intruders who had likely hatched there, assuming it was their home.
Snake intrusions in Thailand are rising every year. The reason is attributed to an increase in construction on natural marsh habitats, which is forcing snakes out of their homes and into people’s homes. Searching every dark corner and secret place little snakes might hide, Lovic scoured the entire room until he was sure all were caught.
Checking the Hallway
When he got to the hallway, he found more snakes. Some hid behind a row of glass bottles. More of the baby cobras were hiding out in empty aluminum cans. It was like they were coming out of the woodwork. This was a hydra situation. He’d bag one, and two more would slither into sight.
This snake rescue was going to take much longer than he had anticipated.
Confirming the Hall is Snake-free
Walking up and down the long hall, Lovic wanted to be sure every single snake had been securely bagged. He didn’t want to leave a room with the chance that a baby python might be yet lurking somewhere in the dark. It seemed like there were dozens of them!
He also was concerned about his own safety. These snakes were small but lethal. A slip of the snake hook and one of those tiny venomous reptiles could slither lickety-split up the hook and onto his arm.
A Meticulous Search and Seizure
More than his own safety, Lovic worried about his friend and the family members who lived there. They had no defense against the deadly cobras, at least he knew how to handle the small reptiles.
Outside, he found them wrapped around pipes. Several more had stowed away inside some garbage cans. They were everywhere. He continued his meticulous investigation. There was no way he was going to leave the house if his friend remains at risk.
Not on the Bed!
If you live in Thailand, you might want to pull back the covers and inspect your bed before climbing in.
On down the hall, Lovic’s friend’s bedroom was the next place he examined. At first, everything looked fine. Yet, he wanted to be certain the place his friend slept was snake-free. A venomous snake bite is a rude awakening, but it could also be your last. As he stepped into the center of the room, he had a thought.
Are There Any Snakes on the Bed?
Just in case, Lovic pulled back the comforter and took a peek. Shocked, he found not one, not two, but at least three snakes inside of his friend’s bed! As soon as the light hit the creepy crawlers, they slithered like mad back into the sheets. He grabbed each one and bagged them—one, two, three.
Lovic strongly suggested his friend stay at a motel. Although he had done his very best, and an absolutely thorough job, just to be sure, he urged his friend and his family, to sleep elsewhere for the night.
The Work Was Far from Done
Finishing up in the bedroom, Lovic spied one more baby cobra. He caught sight of its tail as it was making a quick escape, scrambling away under the door. In a flash, he snagged it with the snake tongs and secured it inside the bag.
Those little guys were quick, but Lovic was faster. As far as he could tell, the bedroom was clear of snakes.
Coming Out of the Woodwork
In the hall, just outside of the bathroom, he spotted another pile of squirmy snakes. How many had he already captured?
The pile writhed wildly in a desperate attempt to scamper free. But, in swift pursuit, Lovic snatched them up, one by one. Looking at his bags, he counted 20 snakes! This was one of the worst snake infestations that he had ever encountered.
Inspecting the Living Room
When he got to the living room, Lovic noticed the shelving unit right away. Oh boy! All of those tiny cubby holes created perfect places of refuge for baby monocled pythons. With so many available sections, he knew it would take some time. He checked each and every potential snake sanctuary thoroughly.
How many more snakes would he find? Lovic said he would not be surprised if he found 20 more.
More Slithering Serpents
Just as he was thinking about getting a backup plastic snake bag, Lovic spied a pair of tall black rubber boots.
An ideal hideout. He checked them right away. But there was no way in the world he was going to touch one of the boots with his hands! So, he kicked the first one over. Immediately, several more monocled cobras wriggled out. He was losing count!
More Than 50 Snakes!
Once certain that every single snake had been extricated from the house, Lovic calculated the final tally. Unbelievably, he counted 56 monocled pythons squirming inside the heavy-duty snake bags!
This was the worst infestation he had ever dealt with. Perhaps, one day, this family will be able to sleep in peace!
A Word from Your Local Thai Snake Expert, Vern Lovic
Vern Lovic shared his professional expertise regarding the problem in Thailand with snakes getting into people’s homes and hiding out in toilets on a segment of Coconuts TV YouTube channel. He says, referring to the Thai man who was attacked while going to the bathroom, “It’s quite a big issue when a python sneaks up a toilet and grabs a guy in the business.”
Lovic continues, “But it doesn’t happen very often, it happens a couple times a year, at the most.” But what if it happens?? Here is his advice. Lovic says, if it doesn’t let go, “grab it at the neck and hold it as tight as you can,” adding, with a chuckle, “a python can hold its breath for 20 minutes.” So, in the worst case, it’ll take 20 minutes to free yourself from a python’s grip.