For stinging insect expert Eric “Critter” McCool, taking his passion for pest control to new heights meant creating a facility that celebrates the industry’s history and educates the public.
On June 1, McCool, owner of CritterMcCool Wildlife Control and Bee Extractions, opened Bee Nation, a museum, education center, stinging research facility and more dedicated to the pest control industry.
Based in Franklin, Pa., the museum features more than 4,000 artifacts that highlight 150 years of the industry’s history, including part of what McCool believes to be one of the largest yellowjacket nests ever documented, which he himself extracted in South Carolina in 2014. A wide variety of other artifacts, such as sprayers, traps, fly swatters, bed bug products and packaged products, are on display as well.
McCool, who has spent more than 30 years collecting items for the museum, said people tend to discard these artifacts, and that Bee Nation provides them with the opportunity to reflect on how the industry has changed, and to look at tools they may have never seen before.
McCool first opened a museum devoted to pest control in 2017, which was called the CritterMcCool Pest Control Museum. The new location is only about one mile from the old one, but “it’s much larger, interactive and educational,” McCool said. Since moving, McCool said the public’s support “has been tremendous.”
In addition to a new name, the museum has added a stinging insect sanctuary that will house approximately 13 species of stinging insects, including honey bees, wasps, bumblebees, yellowjackets, carpenter bees, hornets and others. The sanctuary will act as a safe haven for these insects, and it will also be used to monitor their behavior patterns and conduct research, McCool said.
Designed for both professional use and education for the general public, Bee Nation will offer field trip opportunities for schools, as well as trainings and homeowner classes, which will focus on teaching people how to deal with pests they may encounter in their daily lives.
The goal is for Bee Nation to become the world’s foremost authority on stinging insect control, McCool said. Bee Nation’s museum component is free and open to the public. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday.
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