Nfld. & Labrador

Honeybee swarm has employees buzzing at St. John's government building

A large swarm of honeybees had a group of provincial government employees entranced Wednesday afternoon in St. John's.
Thousands of honeybees were nested in a large tree outside the Petten Building on Strawberry Marsh Road Wednesday. (Vickie Walsh)

A large swarm of honeybees had a group of provincial government employees entranced Wednesday afternoon in St. John's.

Thousands of the bees were nested on a branch of a large tree outside the Petten Building on Strawberry Marsh Road. 

Beekeeper Vickie Walsh told CBC's St. John's Morning Show Thursday that her partner Jan Snellen received a phone call early in the afternoon.

"When he heard that it was up in a tree outside the building that they worked in, he knew it was honeybees, because that's their usual place of rest," said Walsh. 

Walsh said the bees, when looking for a new place to live, could land in a tree, somewhere within 50 metres of their original hive.

Snapping photos in amazement

She said when she and Snellen arrived, a number of employees were looking up into the tree, and snapping photos.

"It was the first time many of them had seen honeybees," said Walsh.

"And with the positive look on bees these days, about them being very important pollinators, they wanted to do something to help them. So that's when the call went from the employees there to us." 

Walsh said they set up a ladder into the tree, and a step ladder to put the swarm box on.

When he heard that it was up in a tree outside the building that they worked in, he knew it was honeybees- Beekeeper Vickie Walsh

Snellen then went into the swarm and scooped some of the bees down into the box.

"The queen is with them, and the bees are all full of honey, so they're very docile and don't sting or anything," said Walsh.

"And then down into the box they go. All the bees that were left on the branch, they will follow where the queen is. Her smell will be in the box, and they'll follow the pheremones of her smell." 

Walsh said the bees had gorged themselves on honey, which is when they're most quiet. 

'You don't want to swat it'

She said to be on the safe side, however, Snellen donned a bee jacket and a glove before reaching into the swarm.

"Just because if one gets caught of your hair, all the scouts are mulling around ... you don't want to swat it, and disturb them," said Walsh.

A large swarm of honeybees had a group of provincial government employees entranced Wednesday afternoon in St. John's. (Vickie Walsh)

Once the Petten Building employees knew the bees were not going to sting them, Walsh said they were quite interested to watch the whole process unfold.

Snellen and Walsh stayed with the bees until 9 p.m. Wednesday, when all the bees were in the box.

"That's a normal time for them.They all enter the hive and go to rest for the night," she said.

"If they were left on the branch, they would have stayed there the whole night."

Walsh said she and Snellen will provide a new home for the bees on their property in Burnt Cove on the Avalon Peninsula's Southern Shore.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

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