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NZ bee swarm: ‘It was like a horror movie’

A swarm of bees on the loose in central Whangarei sent shoppers and sales assistants running for cover.

The bees, probably a breakaway group looking for a new hive, cleared a path yesterday as they flew through the Placemakers yard on Walton St.

Yard foreman Steve Balks said the swarming cloud of bees put a temporary stop to business.

Customers and staff ran for cover and managers hastily closed their office doors when they saw the swarm approaching, Mr Balks said.

“They certainly looked impressive when they came in here, I can tell ya,” he said.

“It was like a horror movie.”

The swarm continued through the yard without hurting anyone and settled on a bush close to the Walton St footpath.

Mr Balks at first rang the Northland Regional Council but was directed to contact the Whangarei District Council.

The local authority contacted a local beekeeper, Barry Bradley, who turned up while the Northern Advocate was on the scene.

Mr Bradley, an amateur beekeeper of 20 years’ experience, inspected the swarm and made plans to coax the bees into a box.

“All they’re doing is protecting the queen and sending out scouts to find another hive,” he said.

“They’re resting here while they find another hive, that’s what it’s all about.”

Mr Bradley said there was nothing unusual about runaway swarm.

“It’s their way of reproducing, it’s as simple as that.”

Two queen bees cannot inhabit the same hive, so one will leave and take a portion of the swarm with her, he said.

After donning his bee suit, Mr Bradley held a wooden box underneath the swarm and shook the bush they were resting on.

Placing the box on the ground, he continued watching the bees to see if they were attracted to the box.

“They can smell the queen,” he said.

“It’s a sure way of finding if you’ve got the queen because if you don’t they all go elsewhere.”

Though surrounded by thousands of flying bees, neither Mr Bradley nor the Northern Advocate reporter were stung.

Mr Bradley said the bees were too preoccupied with the queen to bother stinging bystanders.


By Joseph Aldridge at The Northern Advocate


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