A swarm of honeybees that landed on a cement planter at the corner of Essendene and Gladys streets in downtown Abbotsford on Monday has found a sweet new home and beekeeper in Clayburn Village.
The domestic bees were spotted in the late afternoon buzzing around the corner, with most of them settling on the planter.
The Abbotsford Police contacted one of the apiarists they have on call to collect the wayward colony.
Sheldon Reinheller arrived at about 8 p.m., zipped up his bee suit, and calmly scooped the thousands of bees into the small super or hive he pulled out of his truck.
"It's the easiest swarm I've ever had," he said.
Reinheller said at times if domestic hives are not monitored regularly by their keepers, they may become overcrowded. When that happens, the bees will raise a new queen or two with which to establish a new hive. If the weather is fine, the young queen will fly away to find a new home, taking some of the hive with her.
Reinheller took the bees to his Clayburn Village home, where they should find plenty of nourishment in the nearby berry fields and wild flowers.
A fifth generation apiarist, Reinheller has retrieved swarms for several years, but noted it doesn't happen as often as it used to because there are fewer and fewer bees.
A virus carried by a mite has decimated bee populations over the last several years - Reinheller has lost 16 hives himself.
The honeybees' numbers are further diminished by the onslaught of insecticides and herbicidal sprays that are used in urban yards and even on the commercial farms that depend on bees to pollinate their fruit.
Several years ago, Reinheller would be called to deal with 20 to 30 swarms a season, but he now gets from five to 10 swarm calls. "Some years it's been none," he said.
If you spot a swarm, keep your distance. Don't agitate them because they may sting you, and don't spray them with an insecticide - in B.C., it's illegal to kill honeybees.
They sometimes move on, but the bees will generally settle down as day ends. You can call the Abbotsford Police at 604-859-5225, and they will contact the apiarist on call, or you can call Reinheller directly at 604-309-0645.
The removal service is free, or there may be a nominal fee if he cuts into a structure.
Beekeeper Mike Campbell also collects swarms; call him at 604-856-2125.
- If you want to learn more about bees, you can tour hives at the free Family Fun & Bee Education Day on Aug. 18 at Campbell's Gold Honey Farm and Meadery, at 2595 Lefeuvre Rd., Abbotsford.