WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A routine job led to a sweet discovery and an even sweeter rescue in Winston-Salem.

The NC Department of Transportation had maintenance crews working on storm drainage repair and cutting down dead trees along US 52 when they discovered something a little unusual.

They found two bee colonies within one of the dead trees near the Patterson Road exit.

A supervisor, Kenny Butler, called some colleagues, Greg Dellacona and Danielle Herin, to try and find a solution for the colonies. They ended up contacting Miss Humble B’s Hive, an organization that’s affiliated with the N.C. State Beekeepers Association.

They came to the site and collected one live queen, some honeycomb and most of the hive, relocated them to a small wooden hive in their backyard.

The NCDOT staff were also rewarded with some of the natural honey from the hive once the bees were removed!

Honeybees have been on the decline over the past few decades. This has mostly been attributed to climate change, harmful chemical use and habitat loss. The loss of pollinators could have a serious impact on fruit and vegetable crops and wildflowers, so it’s definitely important to help them!

“When we look at the honeybee population, it is definitely on a decline,” said Tiffany Williams-Brooks, who owns Miss Humble B’s Hive with her husband, Derek. Williams-Brooks said the hive in the tree had been badly damaged and the bees had likely swarmed during its time there. 

The bees rescued from the U.S. 52 site will remain in the smaller wooden hive until the queen starts laying eggs and the colony has enough bees to protect a larger hive. 

Butler said relocating the bees was simply the right thing to do. “We’re proud of the work our people do and are appreciative of the effort they take to just do the right thing,” he said. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website here for more information about pollinators.