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Swarm Creates A Buzz

By Staff | May 29, 2013

A shopper at Peebles in New Martinsville returned to her car Tuesday to find this swarm of bees. Eventually she climbed in the passenger side and drove away, hoping the bees would dislodge themselves from her vehicle. (Photo by Amy Witschey)

A swarm of bees that took up residence on a vehicle in the Riverview Plaza caused quite a buzz Tuesday, but local bee experts, Steve and Ellie Conlon of Thistledew Farms say it should not have caused too much concern.

Ellie states that the group of bees is known as a swarm. She states that swarms are common this time of year, as the weather warms up.

She does not know of anyone in town that has old colonies of bees, but the older colonies are the ones that usually swarm. She explains that once a hive gets too strong, with too many bees, the older bees will leave, and a younger queen will take over. “With some hives you might have three or four swarms, but the first swarm is the larger one,” she explains. As for the swarm today, Ellie states that this one could have come as far as three miles away.

“Bees like to multiply like the rest of us. This is the way they do it . . . When the time is right, when the colony is wealthy, they produce a lot of queens. The old queen leaves with the workers,” explained Steve.

Thistledew has had calls from all over, not just in New Martinsville, relating to swarms; in fact, Tuesday morning they had five calls.

Steve took the call related to the Peebles’ plaza incident. However, by the time he arrived at the location, the woman had already left. Steve told the caller from Shoe Sensation that if the car’s owner had to leave, tell her to “hit a couple of pot holes . . .”

“They kind of dispersed as she went down the highway, I’d say,” continued Steve. He further notes that the bees can’t hang on to anything with an “extreme grip.”

Ellie offers the reassurance that when bees swarm, they are “pretty docile . . . they don’t sting.” She does agree that when they come overhead, by the thousands, it can be scary.

However, she urges that in a case such as Tuesday’s, to not throw anything at the bees that might disturb them. In fact, a person’s best bet would be to call the Conlons. “If we can’t do it, we have other beekeepers in the area that will respond to swarm calls, but we try to do as much as we can,” she states.

Regardless, the bees appear to have an organized plan: “They’ve been doing it a few thousand years,” Steve agrees.