Bees swarm on campus

By Danielle Rideau
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

An area behind a university building was taped off and monitored by police yesterday afternoon because of a bee swarm that posed a possible threat to students and faculty.

The bee swarm was on a mesquite tree outside the Gould-Simpson building, 1040 E. Fourth St., where hundreds of bees clustered and buzzed around each other, forming a swarm that dangled from one of the branches.

The first responding officer arrived on the scene at 1 p.m. and secured the area, blocking access to one doorway, said community service officer Erica Mejia.

Mejia said while she was there waiting for the bee inspector sent by Facilities Management to arrive, there hadn't been any reports of stings or erratic behavior by the bees.

Barry Lay, a beekeeper, said it is unusual for bees to swarm during this time of year because most bees are preparing for hibernation for the upcoming winter months. Bees are not attracted to certain types of weather, but if they are out during the colder months they cluster to stay warm, Lay said.

When bees swarm, he said, they do not pose much of a threat because they are relatively calm unless aggravated. The bees could have been swarming because they were looking for a new hive, Lay said. When they swarm, the worker bees are waiting for a "scout" to find a new location to make a beehive.

If the bees were removed by a beekeeper, Lay said, they probably safely removed the bees and put them in a new hive. If an inspector removed the bees, Lay said, they probably would have been killed.

Facilities Management did not release information about the removal process or the bee inspector by press time.