Campus & Community

Bees put a sting on Iliff roof project

Roofers high atop Iliff Hall are hoping their hard work earns them A’s. What they’ve gotten so far is a lot of bees.

Hundreds of thousands of them. Mostly yellow jackets, hornets and wasps, many upset at finding roofers bustling amid the hives tucked among the corbels capping the historic building.

The insects don’t care that Academy Roofing Inc. is replacing worn out asphalt shingles with new roofing material so durable they need not disturb the hives again for 50 years.

Nor do the bees care that the steep angles of the Richardsonian Romanesque style granite and sandstone building are three stories high; or that because of the steep sides workers need safety ropes, body harnesses, temporary platforms to stand and walk on and elaborate scaffolding with “catch panels” designed to, well, catch.

“There are hornet nests all over,” says roofing foreman Jeff Luedtke, a 23-year veteran who helped reroof the Mary Reed building about 15 years ago. “We’re spraying them as we go.”

So far, stingings have been minimal, one roof worker says, although flailing arms aren’t an uncommon way of fending off the bees and the bats that also occupy the building’s higher regions.

Luedtke says that if any of the hives turn out to have honeybees, they’ll try to remove and relocate them. Assuming they can catch the queen.

“If they don’t have the queen,” he warns, “they’ll come right back.”

Little consolation to the six rooftop guys straining to complete the hotter (south) side of the roof as quickly as possible. “When it comes right to it,” Luedtke confesses, “there is no cool side.”

But there is a deadline. In this case it’s the second week in August, by which time Academy Roofing’s “job of the year” must be finished in all forms: new plywood decking, tarpaper, dimensional shingles, repainted metal flashing, ice and water shielding. Whatever the specs call for needs to be in place and acceptable to Iliff School of Theology officials and the State Historical Fund, which provided a $200,000 grant toward the $500,000 project.

Luedtke says the roofing project will add “character” to the gracious building, which was begun in 1892 and completed a year later and which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’ll be nice,” he promises.

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