Most of us enjoy the opportunity to get away from home at one time or another, but last week, an entire swarm of bees took things to the next level when it ran away from home and went wandering around town.
The swarm—around 20,000 bees total—usually resides in the hives in Lorraine Simmons-Yerian’s back yard in Halifax. However, Simmons-Yerian, a beekeeper with the Halifax Honeybee Society, told the CBC that one afternoon last week, she heard a loud humming sound and looked out her window to see a “swirling tornado of bees” flying over her house and out of sight.
Simmons-Yerian said that bees sometimes do leave the hive but usually don’t go far. But in this case, they got out of her line of sight and went missing.
Later that day, nearby resident Faye Duggan received a call from her neighbour warning her that there was something in her tree. “He thought it was an animal but it wasn’t moving so he said, ‘I think it’s a swarm of bees,'” Duggan told the CBC. “So I got my binoculars and I looked and sure enough, it was a swarm of bees.”
Duggan called the city about the issue but was simply told to call an exterminator. The next morning, her sister called and to tell her that the local news had reported a swarm of bees missing. Duggan called Simmons-Yerian, who came with her husband and cut off the tree limb holding the bees and brought it back home.
“He had his little daughter with him and they were all geared up in their white suits,” Duggan said. “The little girl was there helping him and it was just, it was incredible. I watched every second of it.”
Simmons-Yerian said she thought the hot weather led to the bees’ departure. “It feels more crowded [in the hive], just like us in the house with no air conditioning, and so they make the decision to leave on a nice day to really increase their chances of survival,” she said.
She also noted that for groups of bees to leave their hive is “very natural process,” particularly when the queen is planning to lay an egg for a new queen and begin a new hive.
Presently, the bees are back in Simmons-Yerian’s back yard, and she believes they’ll remain there for the time being. But she also offered a simple piece of advice for anyone who may come across one of her wandering swarms in the future: “Don’t panic, just give me a call.”