When Bees Swarm

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Energy Bee Honey

After weeks of thick marine layer, the sun was finally shining on the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Wednesday morning.  The farmers were out in force selling flowers, meats, veggies and cheese.  People were happily toting bagfuls of tomatoes, peaches and Blenheim apricots.  Chefs were pulling carts filled with fresh produce.

But there was also some Farmer’s Market drama when a swarm of bees appeared in front of a 2nd Street business.

Coincidentally, the bees were hanging out right behind Rose from Energy Bee Farm…she sells honey every Wednesday at the Farmers Market. She’s got a modest table filled with honey jars, tubs, tubes and bears.  Now, I arrived after the bee drama had taken place.  But Laura Avery, who saw the action first-hand told me all the gory details.

When the bee swarm hit, somebody called Vector Control – the county group who handle these kinds of things.   “Danger signs” and orange cones were set up on the sidewalk and a trap for the bees was hung from a nearby bush… it’s a small triangle shaped cardboard things where bees check in but they don’t check out.  It was like a sad, bee crime scene.  After a little while there were hundreds of the poor little guys on their way to bee heaven.  The sad part is that they died in a clump, surrounding their queen.

Bee Crime Scene
Bee Crime Scene (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Rose was absolutely devastated.  She told me that bees swarm when the weather gets warm and the sun is shining.   They’re just looking for a new home and they fly in a swarm to protect their queen.  She told me Vector Control has no interest in saving the bees, just getting rid of them.

Dead Bees
Dead Bees (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Later in the morning, people were coming up to the manager’s desk lamenting the mass murder that took place.   One person even scrawled “killer” on the warning signs.

According to Rose, bees are nothing to be scared of.  She says that people have seen too many movies with killer bees and they’re petrified of these harmless creatures.  In fact, when a bee stings you, you get a little pinprick, but they die immediately afterwards.  And bees have had a tough time lately, what with colony collapse disorder and global warming ruining their lives.

If a swarm visits you, she suggests that should do is call a beekeeper to come and catch the bees – they’ll happily turn them into honey which you can slather on toast or stir into your tea.

Here are a few you can call:

Bill’s Bees 818-312-1691
Ken Harris 562-693-5402
Energy Bee 310-670-5760
Honey Pacifica 562-938-9706, 562-305-0577
Kirk’s Urban Bees 323 646-9651