A swarm of bees is headed for a new home after settling in at a Saanich shopping centre.
The bees were spotted on sunny patch of pavement on Uptown Boulevard Wednesday (May 25), said general manager Kristy Lowes.
The operations manager and security staff quickly cordoned off the area to protect both the bees and Uptown Shopping Centre guests. Then they called in the Capital Region Beekeeper’s Association.
“From what we understand the queen bee died and as a result of that the bees didn’t know where to go,” Lowes said. The swarm was left to settle overnight then boxed by a team at Uptown Thursday morning awaiting a beekeeper to come and take them off to a new home.
“They’re safe and out of the way of guests as well,” Lowes said.
The swarm, and security personnel keeping it safe, garnered much love when Zoe Urquhart shared a 14-second video on the Field Naturalists of Vancouver Island page.
The Capital Regional Beekeepers Association (CRBA) is the largest club on Vancouver Island with more than 200 active members. The organization has a team that specifically deals with found swarms, though any beekeeper can claim a swarm if they know how. Visit capitalregionbeekeepers.ca for more about the organization
CRBA member and Victoria honeybee keeper Bill Cavers isn’t on that team, but he too re-homed a swarm a couple weeks ago.
A hive swarms to follow a queen, Cavers confirmed. Generally a beekeeper will gently collect as many bees as possible into prepared hive boxes, then watch what happens. “If they migrate to the hive boxes, you have the queen. But if the ones in the hive box migrate back to where you collected them, the queen is there. They follow the pheromones,” he explained.
The bees he rescued were on the ground so he scooped them up and had tea with the property owner while awaiting the stragglers to head for the new home. He closed up the boxes then popped them in the family SUV for the drive home. “With only that one passenger compartment I drove home wearing my bee suit in case a few got out. Got some startled looks from pedestrians,”
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