Bees swarm pickup truck in downtown Winnipeg

A swarm of bees took a liking to a pickup truck parked in a downtown Winnipeg lot near the Fairmont Hotel, just a short buzz from Portage and Main.

Insects looking for new home in 'most docile state,' beekeeper explains

Tens of thousands of bees swarm the side of a pickup truck in a downtown Winnipeg parking lot. (Courtesy Ed Wesa)

A swarm made a beeline for a pickup in downtown Winnipeg.

The bees took a liking to a pickup truck parked near the Fairmont Hotel, just a short buzz from Portage and Main.

Ed Wesa was passing the area Thursday afternoon when he saw the swarm clumped around the rear wheel well and side of the box.

Beekeeper Chris Kirouac, a co-owner of BeeProject Apiaries, was called in to collect and haul the insects away. He said a crowd gathered to watch.

"It was really funny how eye-catching it was for people walking by," he told CBC News, adding it wasn't a difficult or dangerous process to gather the bees.

"They were really calm. We were able to pick through them and find the queen, and once you find her you can locate her in a box, or a hive box — we had a cardboard box that beekeepers use — then the other bees are pretty easy to get into the box because they are really attracted to move with her.

"It's not a bad thing. It's a natural process, and it's a beautiful thing to see how calm these bees are and how you can manipulate them.

"Swarming is how bees naturally split and multiply colony numbers," Kirouac explained on his Instagram page.

"This amazing sight can, at first, intimidate those who do not understand the nature of a swarm. But, fear not, swarming is the most docile state of a hive.

"As the bees leave their original hive, they escort their mother queen to a landing site, often on an exposed location such as a branch, an overhang or, in this case, the side of a vehicle. From here, scout bees go out searching out a suitable location for a new hive site."

Generally speaking, they're looking for a site that will provide shelter from the elements and space for the colony to grow and store their food, he said on the Instagram post.

Kirouac, whose BeeProject Apiaries promotes urban beekeeping and helps establish hives in the city, said the weather could have been a factor in making the insects seek out a new home.

"Inclement weather like we had last week, with all that rain for about a week there and then this hot hot weather, is sort of an incubator for this sort of issue," he said. 

The rain causes the bees to all stay inside and then the heat makes them feel stuffy, which convinces them they have run out of space. Then they go looking for a new home, he said.

Kirouac wasn't sure yet whether the bees from Thursday's incident were from one of his hives, but he doubts it.

"We are very vigilant about managing the hive in a way that will reduce the tendency to swarm," he said, adding that he or another person from BeeProject visits their hives every week.

The bees he gathered Thursday will either join one of Kirouac's existing hives near Gimli or be given a new hive at FortWhyte Alive.