Saskatoon

Costco parking lot abuzz after swarm of bees touches down

Thousands of the flying insects covered part of a truck in Saskatoon on Monday.

Thousands of the flying insects covered part of a truck in Saskatoon on Monday

Beekeeper Van Sorensen carefully removes bees from a Ford F-150 on Monday. He said while swarms of bees are not uncommon, he's never seen one gather on the side of a truck before. (Facebook.com/Michelle Vilness)

The parking lot of a Saskatoon Costco was buzzing with excitement after thousands of bees descended on a truck in the parking lot on Monday afternoon. 

Photos of the swarm shared on social media showed a large part of the passenger side of a Ford F-150 covered in the insects. 

John Hildebrandt, the truck's owner, said he'd never seen anything like it, estimating there were thousands of bees on his truck, which was parked at the Market Drive location.

A swarm of bees can be seen on a truck at the Costco on Market Drive on Monday.

"There's only one logical answer for this," he said jokingly. "That it's because I have such a sweet nature about me, my truck and everything is just so sweet, the queen bee just loved it and went there."

Hildebrandt, who was working inside Costco at the time, said he was informed the bees had collected on his truck, but he only went to see the swarm himself when he heard beekeepers had started to remove the insects. 

"A big high-five for them," he said. 

The swarm was safely removed by a local beekeeper. (Facebook.com/Michelle Villness)

Swarms of bees aren't uncommon and are actually a sign of a healthy and thriving hive, said Melissa Stonehouse, president of the Saskatoon Bee Club. 

"It's the hive's way of splitting off," she said.

Stonehouse said once a hive has reached capacity, the queen bee will leave the parent hive in search of a new home, taking half of the hive with her. During the search, the queen bee has to rest, at which time a swarm will form. 

"What they'll do is they'll stop and they'll cluster like that around the queen to protect her and then they send out scouts to go and find a suitable home," she said.

Stonehouse said from photos she had seen of the swarm, it was a normal size, noting this is the time of year when hives can reach capacity.

She said the fact they stopped on the truck was just coincidence. She was pleased staff at Costco took the approach they did, because the natural reaction to a swarm is often panic. 

"Thank you very much to Costco for not panicking and deciding to kill the bees," she said, noting contacting an experienced beekeeper is exactly what you should do if you encounter a swarm. 

Van Sorensen, the beekeeper who safely removed the insects from the truck, said the location of Monday's swarm was unique. 

"That's the first time I've seen one on the side of a vehicle, that's for sure," he said. "It was tricky getting them off of there, but it wasn't too bad."

He said while the stinging insects may make some people uneasy, the swarm posed no threat. 

"It can be pretty scary for people who aren't used to working with them, but when they're swarming, they're very docile, gentle and easy to work with." 

The bees have now be transported to a hive just outside of Saskatoon and are said to be in good health. 

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