Rescued bees find new home as auction funds will help fund repairs at church

Just days after an estimated 30,000 honeybees were saved from the bell tower of a 19th-century church on Sound Avenue in Northville, they have a new place to call home outside the walls of the steeple.

Evan Bell of Mattituck placed a winning bid of $700 to earn the right to keep the bees in his yard.

The money will go to Community Baptist Church, which owns the building and will use the auction proceeds to make essential repairs.

“We had four or five bidders at the auction,” Pastor Andrew Montoro said. “And some bid more than once. We are very grateful for this, but the biggest thing that happened at the church was getting the bees out safely. Now we can move forward with saving the church building.”

For Mr. Bell, who works in Manhattan and maintains a weekend home in Mattituck, buying the hive is part of a growing love affair with honeybees.

He is a member of Custer Institute’s beekeeping club, which meets there the first Friday of every month. Ken Robins, who rescued the bees from the steeple, helps run the club, where he passes on his own skills as a beekeeper.

“Ken is my bee sensei,” Mr. Bell said. “Three years ago my wife and Ken surprised me with a beehive. It was the last thing in the world I wanted. But, oh boy, it turned into a fascinating hobby. I love it.”

He said he came to have great respect for honeybees, who take care of their queen, make sure the brood of newly hatched bees is fed properly and bring pollen back to the hive. As they care for each other, they make food for humans — honey.

“There aren’t any other animals that promote our ecosystem, feed themselves and create a by-product that feeds us,” Mr. Bell added. “They are amazing.”

For Mr. Robins, saving the bees from the steeple was a reflection of his own deep affection and respect for honeybees. He maintains more than 60 hives on the North Fork, at places including Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue.

He said the newly removed bees will remain at his house in Cutchogue for several weeks “while they are on intensive care to build up their strength.” With pollen season over, he said the 11 combs removed from the steeple contained no honey at all. He said they would have had a very difficult time surviving the winter.

So now these honeybees are on a syrupy drip to keep them healthy. And in a few weeks, they will join three other hives at Mr. Bell’s house.

“These bees all work on instinct,” Mr. Bell said. “They are wonderful to work with.”