‘Cool ball of bees’: Bee swarm rescued from Uptown Centre sidewalk

'Cool ball of bees': Bee swarm rescued from Uptown Centre sidewalk
Zoe Urquhart says she was surprised to see a swarm of bees on the ground at Uptown. (Zoe Urquhart)

When one woman was leaving Walmart at Uptown Centre she came across an unusual sight — a swarm of bees on the ground.

“It all happened quite fast,” Zoe Urquhart told CHEK News. “I had been at Uptown for a bit, my daughter was doing art there, and nothing was happening, and then I came out of Walmart, and there was a big swarm of bees. And then there was two security guards kind of directing people away from it.”

Urquhart says she took a video of the bees to share in the Field Naturalists of Vancouver Island (FNVI) Facebook group, and was not expecting the reaction it has gotten.

“A few hours before I had posted a video of like some slugs and it had like 18 likes on it,” Urquhart said. “So I figured it would just be a few people that would be like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ And then I just was super shocked, I opened up my Facebook before bed last night and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, like this is everywhere now.'”

The post has almost 500 reactions, and 300 shares, as of the time of posting.

She says she chatted with the security guards and said they seemed happy to be watching over the bees.

“They said it was a nice break from their normal,” she said.

“And one of the security guards said, ‘I was kind of scared of bees before this, but I’ve learned so much about them today, and they’re I feel like a sense of responsibility for them now, and I really love these little guys. It’s so great to just be here taking care of them and making sure nothing happens to them.'”

Kristy Lowes, manager of Uptown, says staff helped watch over the bees while they were at the mall.

“Our staff protected the integrity of the bees and our guests and blocked off the area,” Lowes said. “And then subsequently, this morning, the bees still hadn’t left that area. So one of our staff put the bees in a box and the Capital Region Beekeeping Society came and picked them up.”

Uptown staff had helped get the bees into a box for Andrew Moyer (pictured above) from the Capital Region Beekeepers Association to pick up. (Uptown)

Andrew Moyer, volunteer with the Capital Region Beekeepers Association says he got the call this morning to come pick up the swarm.

“I went there this morning, [staff at Uptown] had got some of them in a box. And once you get, you know, a few of them in a cluster, usually the rest of them will will join it,” Moyer told CHEK News.

“They have pheromones that they can smell so they kind of all get in one spot. So they’re clustered in a box, which made it a lot easier for me to pick up than usual, usually they’re stuck to a tree are in a bush or something like that.”

Andrew Moyer, volunteer with the Capital Region Beekeepers Association says having the bees in a box helped with collection. (Uptown)

Moyer says this swarm is smaller, about 5,000 to 10,000 bees and larger swarms can be around 60-80,000 bees.

He says when bees swarm, usually about half leave to go find another home and take the queen with them, then the other half stays behind and will make a new queen.

Although Urquhart posted that she was told the queen for this swarm had died, Moyer says it’s too soon to tell if the swarm has a queen.

“Whether there’s a queen or not is kind of conjecture. We don’t really know, there was some talk that the queen was killed but it’s pretty hard to see a queen in 10,000 bees,” Moyer said. “I don’t know, I have them all clustered together and it’ll take a few days to figure that out.”

Moyer says he has the bees in the box still, and will transfer them to a hive this afternoon.

If there is a queen, the queen will start laying eggs, so he says he won’t know if the swarm has a queen for about a week.

“[If not,] because it’s a small group like that, I’ll probably add it to one of my hives,” Moyer said. “Because they probably have a hard time surviving a small group like that.”

When bees form a cluster, Moyer says they’re calm and not likely to sting people.

“Once it’s clustered, it’s this cool ball of bees,” Moyer said. “You could stand in the middle of a swarm or they’ll just fly all around you. They’ve got they’ve got business in mind. They’re looking for a place to live, and they don’t care about people.”

If someone comes across a swarm of bees, Moyer says they can call the CRBA swarm hotline at 250-900-5787 and one of the volunteers will come out to pick it up.

“Bees are having a super tough time right now,” he said. “Bees are having mites and viruses. They’re really having a tough time with survival. And they have for quite a while, but it’s getting tougher and tougher. So we’re working harder and harder to keep them going.”

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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