Mid-Michigan family makes career out of collecting hornets - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Mid-Michigan family makes career out of collecting hornets

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(09/13/12) - Hornets, bees, yellow jackets - all insects most people run from. But one Mid-Michigan family has made a career out of chasing them.

Meet Lee Rockafellow and his son Travis. They're both school teachers who share the same summer job, too - one that's a major change of pace from the classroom.

The Rockafellow's collect hornets - a lot of hornets.

We found the Rockafellows in a online advertisement that read, "Rock's Free Hornet Removal - You spot Them, We Got Them".

When we called, we learned their summer job serves a big purpose.

"We collect stinging insects for a laboratory that extracts the venom and then uses it for people who are highly allergic to bee stings," Lee said.

During the summer, the Rockafellow's collect thousands of hornets by capturing and then freezing their nests.

"We have to keep them frozen in the freezer due to the fact that the venom, we don't want it spoiling,"  Travis said.

Then they separate the hornets. Queens go in one pile and Worker hornets in another. The Drones or male hornets get thrown out because they don't have a stinger.

Travis' 2-year-old son can school you on the differences. He'll probably be a third generation hornet harvester.

Should a queen and her "operation" ever set up shop in your yard, just call the Rockafellow's.

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