Bee swarm cleared from newspaper box

May 7, 2008 6:45:25 PM PDT
A professional beekeeper was called in to remove a swarm of honeybees from their perch atop an Upper East Side newspaper box Wednesday afternoon. NYPD and FDNY units were called to the corner of East 76th Street and 2nd Avenue after the swarm of some 5,000 bees descended on the newspaper box. Emergency responders called the Bronx Zoo for guidance, and the zoo called in beekeeper Jim Fisher.

Fisher used water to wet the wings of the swarn to prevent them from flying off, then used a whisk broom to sweep the bees into a cardboard box. Once the queen bee was inside, the rest of the bees followed her pheremones into the box.

Fisher says the bees had been on the box for about an hour and likely landed in desperation, having come from a nearby hive that had split its population in two. Half flew off with the new queen bee in search of a new home, while the other half remained with the existing hive and the old queen bee. It's behavior that's not unusual this time of year, Fisher said.

The bees that bolted were looking for a space about the size of a corner mailbox to call their new home.

Fisher says that while 5,000 sounds like a lot of bees, it's really pretty small as swarms go. All of the bees together weighed about a pound and could have fit inside a woman's handbag. The swarm was docile, having no hive or honey to defend.

Thanks to Fisher, the bees now have a new home north of New York City. They've taken up residence with another beekeeper who lost a hive of bees to disease some time ago.