SEATTLE—It seemed like a bee invasion Monday afternoon when an estimated 10,000-12,000 bees decided to drop-in on a Ballard neighborhood. Neighbors said it seemed like the day turned into night as the cloud of bees flew down the street before settling in a tree.
That's when Bob Ernst got a call from his neighbor "(she) said 'if your windows are open, close them - there's a swarm of bees around your house." Ernst was familiar with bees and went outside to see "It looked like a football or a basketball hanging from the tree branch."
Although, it can be a little frightening to see a swarm of bees, Becker says "it's the natural reproductive cycle." He said overcrowding often triggers the queen to leave the hive with thousands of her subjects. "The typical pattern is that the old queen will take off with half the workers from the colony, to start a new hive" Becker says.
Becker says we are in the midst of what they call "swarm season". Between April and June, it's not uncommon for swarms of bees to pass through or even stop in trees and bushes.
If you see one in your neighborhood, you can call a beekeeper from the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association and they will remove honey bees at no charge.
The bees that arrived in Ballard on Monday are already thriving in Becker's backyard. In less than 24 hours they have already started building honeycomb "this is very good, this is quite remarkable."
Back in Ballard, neighbors said the experience was pretty cool. The bees were not hostile and nobody was stung. Bob Ernst didn't mind having out-of-town guests for a few hours "I'd like to be closer to nature as it is, so I thought it was perfectly acceptable and kind of fun."
Beekeepers say it's important to try and save as many bees as possible. Over the last several years there has been a dramatic decline in the honey bee population throughout the U.S.