Like a scene from a horror movie, thousands of honey bees descended on downtown Stockholm on Friday the 13th, creating panic among people in the area. Some experts are blaming the incident on unskilled beekeepers.
A second swarming incident occurred Saturday in the Sordermalm section of Stockholm.
The first incident occurred Friday afternoon and lasted for about three hours with the bees eventually settling on the windows of the H&M buiding, where they stayed until a pair of professional beekeepers were able to remove them.
“I saw them all over the windows, they even got through the first layer of glazing. My colleague was super scared because she’s allergic to bees,” said Annette Rieger in an article in The Local.
Swarming is part of the natural life cycle of a hive. Whenever a hive gets too crowded, some of the bees will choose a new queen, and then anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 will leave with the new queen in search of a new nesting site while any remaining bees will stay with the old queen, according to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln website.
Urban bee-keeping has increased in popularity over the last several years. Not only do the bees produce honey, they are major pollinators for flowering plants and trees in the area around their hives.
While swarming is a natural phenomenon, experienced beekeepers take measures to control it. At least one expert says Friday’s swarming was caused by inexperienced beekeepers who did not follow the proper procedures.
“They think swarming season is over go on holiday without providing the controlled supervision they should,” said Karolina Lisslo of Bee Urban, a hive management firm that leases out 27 hives in the region around Stockholm.
Lisslo went on to say the rogue swarm could not have come from one of their hives.
“We have frequent and regular inspections and our queens have their wings clipped,” Lisslo said. Once a beekeeper sees signs of a second queen, the new queen and her followers are located to another hive, preventing any random swarming.
The swarms were removed by experienced beekeepers, who first covered the swarm with a cloud of smoke, which made the bees dizzy. They were then put in a box and moved to a more remote location.
Though the incidents caused considerable panic, there were no reports of anyone needing medical attention due to bee stings.