TYLER, TX (KLTV) - One of the largest bee hives Smith County beekeepers say they have ever seen sits in the front yard of a neighborhood here in Tyler.
"I'm going to say there's at least 40,000 bees there, maybe more," said Dick Counts, a Smith County beekeeper.
Counts said this beehive is made up of eight honeycombs tied together, and it measures about 20 inches wide and 30 inches long.
"That thing probably has enough honey for the bees to make through the winter," Counts said.
Counts believes this hive has been in this oak tree for at least two years, proving that the bees can survive the winter with a home this large.
"If our winter is moderate, it will survive into the third year," Counts said.
Although the hive looks intimidating, Counts said homeowners in the area are not in danger.
"Just ignore them, and they will do their thing, they are only out there looking for a resource," Counts said.
Several species of bees are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
And because the bees are so crucial for pollination, the US Fish and Wildlife Service asks anyone who comes in contact with a hive such as this to protect rather than destroy.
"Every third bite that you eat, a bee is responsible for," Counts said.
Counts said he is going to come back to this house on Birch Street in Tyler just before it gets bitterly cold to make sure the bees are properly secured.
"Maybe we can come back next spring and take a picture of the cone that they left," Counts said.
The homeowner who owns the oak tree says she is not worried about the bees in her yard, just as long as they don't come to close to her porch.