The most memorable elements of summer for us humans are hot days, pub gardens, the occasional beach days, and in particular, bees! Known for their appearance during beautiful seasons, we tend to over exaggerate our screeches of “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” without realising the harmlessness of these very intelligent creatures.
Pollinating pretty flowers, creating useful products for us including honey and wax, and particularly their colonisation abilities, bees are social insects who do not usually bother us during their day-to-day activities. Even though the advice to everyone is ‘don’t panic!’ and ‘stay still!’, there’s always someone screaming and waving vigorously in fear.
So it was a surprise to the people on Greenwich Church Street close to Greenwich Market when a swarm of bees had traffic at a standstill for roughly an hour. The bees swarmed above a traffic light as footage showed Londoners ducking and diving attempting to avoid the cloud. This incident seemed to even excite the public, with one shop owner videoing the events, describing it as ‘absolutely crazy’ and reporting an ‘un- derlying humming sound’ around the area.
Being one of the hardest working insects on the planet, bees can fly up to 9 miles from the nest in search of food. The honeybee in particular, travels about 620 miles in her lifetime, and can be known to ‘work herself to death’ in a 3 week period. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that bee species are becoming increasingly endangered at an alarming rate, with the U.S. National Agricultural Statistics showing the honey bee population decline from 6 million hives in 1947 to now only 2.4 million in 2008. That works out as a 60 percent fall for our buzzing friends!
The swarming of bees usually happens when the queen bee leaves the original hive as a new colony is formed. A large group of worker bees follow the queen, with about 60% of the original hive travelling with her. This ‘primary swarm’ can include up to tens of thousands of bees!
On the day of the events, professional bee keepers from Brockley Bees came to the rescue, bringing along with them a mobile hive in order to entice the swarm and calm the bees. Mr Clarkson from Brockley Bees told the Metro, “We explained to the public that during a swarm, bees are extremely docile and calm, and there is a very rare chance of being stung.” Mr Clarkson and his colleagues stayed until 8.30pm moving the swarm, calming not only the bees but the people of Greenwich. Safe to say this event was a buzz!