A beekeeper

A beekeeper

Penticton deals with a buzz of activity

City contracts beekeeper to remove swarm of honeybees trying to establish a hive downtown

Some new residents tried to set up housekeeping in Downtown Penticton this week, but were soon sent on their way by city officials.

“There was a huge swarm yesterday. It was a foot long if not longer, it was just huge, just massive,” said Rita Peterson. “People were walking through all these bees, I don’t think they knew what they were.”

The swarm of honeybees, following their queen, were attempting to build a home in a city-owned tree along Martin Street, near the Decoy Tavern.

“The bees were making a little home in the trees and the city came down with a beekeeper and I guess he got the queen bee,” said Peterson, who was concerned that the swarm lingered after the removal of the queen.

Though it was about half the size as the day before, she described the remaining swarm as between a baseball and a football in size.

“From what I understand, the branch was totally covered. Apparently this branch was completely covered and it was very thick,” said Simone Blais, communications director for the City of Penticton.

“It may have made people a little nervous, but from what I understand, this was completely normal behaviour for the bees.”

City parks staff contacted the Ministry of Environment and were referred to a beekeeper, who removed the queen bee from the swarm. With the queen gone, Blais was told the swarm would disperse normally.

“That takes a bit of time. The beekeeper said they hang around for a day or two, especially if they detect her scent in the tree,” said Blais, adding that the city would be checking back to ensure the swarm was dispersing. “If not, we will cordon the area off, but it should be fine in the next little bit.”

The evicted queen was taken to a beekeeper’s hives out of town.

“Some of her drones were taken with her, so hopefully we will find her a more appropriate home than in the middle of downtown,” said Blais.