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While the rest of the country was getting ready for the Fourth of July, city parks employees worked to remove a few hundred bees that had collected under a picnic table at Brighton Street Park in Ocean Beach.

The bees, which may have chosen the spot to maintain warmth and gather strength before swarming off in search of a suitable place to build a hive, were unknowingly awaiting a visit from an exterminator on the afternoon of July 3.

The bees had been reported to the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department June 27. With the beginning of Independence Day less than 24 hours away, Park and Rec could wait no longer for the insects to move along of their own accord. A city-contracted pest-control vendor had to be called in to take out the critters, said Dan Daneri, regional supervisor for shoreline parks.

“I was hoping the sprinklers would come on at night and chase them out,” Daneri said.

It’s common behavior for the insects to dogpile themselves into the shape of a mound, but they’re usually not building a hive, said Kurt Schuster of Pestmaster Services, the vendor that arrived late in the afternoon. A swarm that forms a ball and attaches itself to a picnic table, meter box, or light pole is usually between hives. This can happen for a variety of reasons — perhaps things got too crowded at the old hive. Typically, they rest up for a few days and fly off to build a new abode, Schuster said.

City crews encounter these great balls of bees three or four times a year, Daneri said. “They’re usually hanging on the side of a palm tree or something. They’re not defending a hive, so they’re in a peaceful state.”

Daneri acknowledged some may fret over the loss of the bees, but the city has no other options, he said. A contracted exterminator has insurance and bears the liability in case something goes awry, he said.

Schuster said he sprayed the swarm with pyrethrin, a natural organic compound derived from the chrysanthemum flower that attacks the nervous systems of bees. It causes them to freeze and land on a plastic bag, where they can be wrapped up and collected. The chemical is not harmful to the environment, he said.

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Javajoe25 July 3, 2014 @ 8:29 p.m.

So, were the bees destroyed in the process? Seems that would be unnecessary as there are so many bee removal services available. Also, lots of news lately about the collapse of bee colonies, so I would think the extra steps required to not kill them would be viewed as worthwhile. I hope they were transferred and not destroyed. It's obvious they were only there to for the much anticipated, but legally forbidden marshmallow feast.


shirleyberan July 3, 2014 @ 11:19 p.m.

I think you should check what the stats are about % of bees here are Africanized. 80% I have heard recently. When they swarm into a tree in your yard you got a killer problem.


shirleyberan July 3, 2014 @ 11:56 p.m.

And if you haven't seen them swarming by the thousands, it's Hitchcock scary, over my backyard out of nowhere, without warning, beelining into a hole in my tree, they aren't sweet little honey bees, but killers if you piss 'em off, so I had them knocked off.


KLoEditor July 4, 2014 @ 11:51 a.m.

These weren't Africanized bees, these were peaceful bees. I'm sorry more of an effort wasn't made to remove them alive.



shirleyberan July 7, 2014 @ 11:08 a.m.

I'm sorry about the bees. Maybe somebody shoulda/coulda saved them.


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