A bee-autiful story: Man saves queen-less bee swarm with the help of Facebook group

A Toronto man is being touted as a hero on social media after capturing and transporting a swarm of bees who appeared to have lost their queen.

'Driving around with a box of bees?! ARE YA NUTS?!?' asked one person

A swarm of bees was seen clustered around a fire hydrant near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue in Toronto last week. (Ryan VanDrie)

A Toronto man is being touted on social media as a hero after capturing and transporting a swarm of bees who appeared to have lost their queen.

And he even managed to do it without getting stung. 

It all started on Bunz Trading Zone, a popular Facebook trading group. Ryan VanDrie was the first person to bring the issue to light after he posted a photo of the popular pollinators clustered around a fire hydrant at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue in Toronto on Thursday. They had apparently been there for some time.

Learning from other Bunz commenters that they had likely lost their queen and were in need of saving, the group member wrote that the Toronto Bee Rescue told him the swarm wasn't large enough for them to save.

So he turned to Bunz for help, and the hive mind delivered.

The man posted a plea to save the bees, who were dejectedly huddled on the ground. Many people chimed in with enthusiastic 'save the bees!' posts.

Nima Alizadeh, who lives nearby, stepped up to the plate, er, fire hydrant.

"I don't think I did anything too special," he said. "I feel bees are important. And I was close by, and not afraid of getting stung, so it just seemed logical that I would do it."

Another commenter said displaced bees could be coaxed into a cardboard box, and then transported elsewhere, so Alizadeh biked over with a cardboard box. 

When he found the bees at around 8:30 p.m., he started moving them into the box with his bare hands, and also used some sticks and leaves to scoop them into the box. A security guard ended up giving him his leather gloves to use, which Alizadeh says helped a lot.

"I didn't know what I was doing at all," he said.

Alizadeh posted progress photos along the way. Here, the bees are about half-way in to their temporary cardboard home. (Nima Alizadeh)

But he kept at it, updating the group on his progress along the way.

"They're harder to get in a box than I thought," he posted. "They don't wanna go in, they're being very stubborn."

After about 20 bees stayed in the box, the rest entered their temporary cardboard home. Alizadeh says it took about an hour and a half to get them all in.

He didn't get stung, although he said he likely lost three bees — he noticed three stingers stuck to the leather gloves the security guard had lent him.

"They were really calm, actually."

Now, his challenge was to get the boxed-in-bees to their new home in Parkdale, which came courtesy of another member of the Facebook group, who said his beekeeper friend could take them.

Alizadeh closed up the box and walked it home. When he got home, he carefully placed the box in the passenger seat of his car, keeping them snug with the seatbelt.

"I felt that maybe that was the safest," he said.

Alizadeh carefully transported the bees from Yonge and Eglinton to their new home in Parkdale - snug in place with the help of the seatbelt. (Nima Alizadeh)

Many commenters cheered Alizadeh, while others questioned his sanity.

"Driving around with a box of bees?! ARE YA NUTS?!?" wrote Bunz member Jeff Van Helvoort.

Someone else mused about the box breaking open while en route.

"Don't jinx me," replied Alizadeh.

Alizadeh successfully transported the bees to Parkdale for their new home.

He hopped back in his car, on his way to enjoy the rest of his night, along with the notoriety that comes from Bunz fame.

"I got back in the car and I hear a buzzing, and I look in my cupholder and there's one bee left," he said.

He reversed the car, and managed to get the lone bee back to its buddies in the box, without any of the other bees escaping.

"It just didn't seem right to drive away with one bee," he said.

Alizadeh said the man in Parkdale has updated him, saying the bees are as happy as can be, and will be taken to three colonies by the beekeeper on Monday.

A Facebook group member wrote that the Toronto Bee Rescue told him the swarm of bees wasn't large enough for them to save. (Ryan VanDrie)


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