“[I] drove right through the [bee] swarm with the windows rolled down,” said Mike Glosson, from Normal Heights.”
Glosson, 54, who is a systems analyst, estimated that there was a “swarm of thousands of bees” on May 18 (approximately 1:00 p.m.), as he crossed the Meade Avenue bridge over the 805 Freeway. He said that he hasn’t been stung by a bee in the last 29 years and that Thursday was a close call. “Due to some aerodynamic oddity, no bees ended up in the car.”
On May 26, Glosson read on his social media app (under a post called “more on KILLER BEEs”) that some of the kids from his neighborhood were stung by some bees. Many of the neighbors showed their concern and corroborated the bee buzz — one from Kensington said “there have been a half dozen posts over the past two days about a swarm of aggressive bees north of Adams [Avenue], including a large number of people and pets who have been stung multiple times without provocation.”
Hilary Kearney, a San Diego beekeeper, suggests that if one is surrounded by many bees, “you should try not to panic and seek shelter immediately inside a car or building. If one gets stung, she said “the pain disappears after just seconds … and sometimes the area will be tender or swell, and this can last for several days or even a week. [Placing] ice [on the bee-sting area] works the best to keep the swelling down.”
If one is allergic to bees, or doesn’t know for sure, she said: “A true bee allergy is when you exhibit a non-local reaction. For example, you get stung in the hand and your legs swell up or you break out on hive or you have a breathing problem. If you think you are having an allergic reaction, you should call 911 and take the advice of the operator on the phone.”
Kearney, 30, is the owner of Girl Next Door Honey and has been beekeeping for the last seven years. She said that our city is seeing more bees because of the rainfall we had earlier this year. “There is always more bee activity in the spring and summer … [and] rain means more flowers, and flowers mean more bee activity.”
Garrett, 38, is a research administrator who lives approximately three exits down from the Glosson bee sighting. “When bees swarm, they often rest in a clump temporarily before finding a permanent place to start establishing a hive,” he said.
Garrett has experience with beekeeping as well. When he saw a photo (of a beehive) of a neighbor posted on social media (called “Anybody want some free bees?”), he offered some advice — another neighbor, though, commented and might’ve capitalized, “if the swarm is still there and you need someone to adopt them, please private message me.” Shortly after, the thread bumps stopped “… in more than half the cases, those bees move on within 12-24 hrs or less” Garrett said.
“A true bee swarm is a colony looking for a place to live, [and] it will be a loud flying cloud of bees, and although it looks scary, it’s actually when the bees are most docile,” Kearney said. “They will not react defensively because they have no home to defend; however, if you swat at them and panic, you will probably be stung. You should refrain from swatting and move away from the bees. If you were actually in a situation where you were being attacked by bees that is not called a swarm, but you should refrain from swatting because it will only make the bees more angry and cause you to be stung more.”
Although Garrett has seen “tens of thousands [of bees] overall,” especially when he goes hiking up Cowles Mountain, he does not feel threatened. “They’re important to the overall environment as plant pollinators, but especially crucial to humans’ terms of food production.”
Regarding the killer-bee breed presumed by some of the neighbors; “[There are] Africanized bees in this area but they have been here for 20 years and in my opinion are becoming less defensive than they used to be because they have interbred with the European bees,” Kearney said. “Each colony is unique and will have different levels of defensiveness.” She added that the San Diego honeybee population is healthy but is concerned about the other bee breed populations; including the bumblebees, mason bees, carpenter bees, and sweat bees.