Fine Arts Center battles bees

Photo courtesy of Jamilla Buzzell.
The Fine Arts Center is littered with dead bees.

If you have ever walked through the halls of the Fine Arts Center and heard an annoying buzzing noise, there is a good chance you are hearing the unwanted neighbors.

Honeybees, and they’re not as sweet as they’re thought to be.

In the past couple years, bees have been spotted within the catwalks of the theatre, but even more so in the green room.

“There were times when you couldn’t see the light because they were so covered with the bees. It was ridiculous, like we couldn’t believe we were having this big of an issue,” said senior Gannon Teunissen, assistant technical director for MacArthur Stine who has worked many events in the theatre doing lights and sound.

For the actors, actresses and crew members, the green room is known for being a place of relaxation and for social events, but it has since become a who can-find-the-greatest-number-of-bees space. 

Bees have also been found on couches in the halls and cluttered around the tables.

On a walk throughout the costume shop, the green room and the back steps of the stage, Theatre Arts professor Harry McEnerny pointed out several places where bees had met their fate.

“We came down here during rehearsals, we were in the dance studio and you could hear them from the hallway, and we came in here and they were just everywhere swarming into the lights,” he said.

The thought was they were coming in from a hole near the catwalks, the long narrow passageways high above the stage. Facilities workers are trying to battle them and think they have sealed the hole.

MacArthur Stine, director of Technical Services, has been at the forefront trying to help facilities workers control the bee problem.

“Our aim has been to not simply kill them, but to find a way to co-exist by keeping them out of the theater,” he said.

“They didn’t spray to exterminate them, but they think they found the hole where they were coming in so they sealed the hole,” McEnerney said.

Last year was particularly bad, members of technical crew, actors and actresses said. The stage had to be swept every time it was used due to the number of bee fatalities.

Sophomore Daniel Jackson said the green room was swarming with bees one day before a dance practice.

“We walked in and you could hear the swarm of bees just all over green room, like you could see basically just this whole cluster on the lights, and on the floor, it was almost out of a horror film, like it was a terrifying sight to see. I’m not allergic to bees but this is unsettling.”

In last year’s production of “The Liar,” former Castleton student Nicole DeCicco was stung during the production but was able to get through the scene.

“So, I was in the middle of a scene when I felt something on my big fluffy skirt. I brushed it away and immediately felt a stinging pain on my arm. I kept acting and didn’t reveal the pain, and luckily, I had an exit coming up. Once I got off the stage, I started crying, I was so confused initially,” DeCicco said.

While permanent removal of the colony would mean deconstructing the rear wall of the theatre, which they don’t want to do, Stine said he thinks the worst is over and he thanked facilities workers.

“The facilities staff has been instrumental and highly responsive in helping to solve this problem. Our most recent gambit involved using spray foam to block known avenues of entry. It was very successful and has reduced the number of bees entering the theater substantially,” he said.

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