‘Trying to find a new home’: Island beekeeper removes swarm from downtown Victoria

‘Trying to find a new home’: Island beekeeper removes swarm from downtown Victoria
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Beekeeper Francesco Nicoletti is pictured beside the swarm in downtown Victoria on May 22, 2024.

A swarm of bees that had gathered at a busy downtown Victoria intersection drew attention from onlookers and VicPD before being removed by a local beekeeper.

Victoria Police received multiple 911 calls about a “large swarm of bees” surrounding a city power box at the intersection of Blanshard Street and Fisgard Street around 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Officers set up around the swarm and diverted traffic in the Victoria intersection as beekeeper Francesco Lopez Nicoletti, who owns the company Medieval Bees, was called in.

Nicoletti told CHEK News that bee swarms are a natural part of bee life, though it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why this swarm was drawn to this downtown electric box.

“When the bees are in swarm mode it means they are trying to find a new home to live in,” he said.

“A swarm is how hives reproduce. If you think of a beehive as one organism, a swarm is when a portion splits off to make a new hive.”

He says there are many beehives in downtown Victoria, including at the Hudson District buildings close to where the swarm was found, and that the bees may have smelled these other hives and went to investigate.

“Swarms are generally peaceful and we had a lot of folks come by without protective gear as well as myself and stand in the middle of it all and get photos,” said the beekeeper.

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The bee swarm that was in downtown Victoria is pictured. (Francesco Nicoletti)

Nicoletti says there’s no single way to remove a bee swarm, but that generally a beekeeper will bring one of their own hives to attract the swarm and transport it somewhere else.

Another approach is to find the queen bee in the swarm and bring it into your own hive so that the rest of the bees will follow her.

“Wherever you have bees you’ll have swarms eventually! So if you want bees to help with nature it’s one of those things that happens,” said Nicoletti.

The beekeeper says that the bees he manages have been doing well this year.

“I can’t speak for everyone’s hives on the Island but my hives have been doing very well, we had a lot of hives make it through the winter strong.”

Nicoletti says heat waves over the past few years have caused his bees to reproduce quickly, and that an early spring bloom in Victoria has brought “a lovely amount of flowers right now so they are living off of the natural stuff for this year which is what we want.”

He says many apartment buildings on the Island have bee hives, and historically malls used to as well.

“Larger buildings in my experience don’t normally have hives, but I personally think if the city did a big flower push to make Victoria as colourful as possible we could support so many bees in the downtown area.”


The bee swarm that was in downtown Victoria is pictured. (Francesco Nicoletti)

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