They’re baaaack! A giant swarm of bees was spotted recently in the Boerum Hill area of Brooklyn, causing some alarm among residents. Luckily, New York City beekeeper Ross Bennett Brown explains that the docile bees aren’t looking to harm humans – they’re simply scouting out a new home. Though that may be true, we’re not completely assuaged considering that last summer, 15,000 bees attacked tourists at South Street Seaport after their contained hive was dropped. Whether you find it scary or not, read on to see a video of the Boerum Hill bees performing their “waggle dance” in a tree on Baltic Street.
Bees typically swarm when their nests become too crowded or congested. A swarm may contain anywhere between 1,500 to 30,000 bees at a time and they tend to occur in late spring or early summer. “I make sure I provide plenty of extra room in my hive in the spring so my girls don’t swarm,” Brown told Gothamist.
If you thought that a swarm of bees in a public place would get under your skin, you might be surprised to know that bees may be living next door to you. Brown happens to be one of many New York City residents tending to hives in the close quarters of the city. In 2010, the New York City Board of Health lifted the ban on beekeeping and amended the health code to allow residents to keep hives of the common, nonaggressive honeybee (also known scientifically as Apis mellifera). Resident beekeepers must file a notice with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene containing the beekeeper’s contact information and location of the hive.
The New York City Beekeepers Association provides educational support to members including how to safely and responsibly keep bees in urban environments. Their manual of best practices for safe urban beekeeping also outlines how to mitigate swarms including the recommendation that beekeepers should replace old or failing queens.