Thousands of honey bees swarmed a tree at Buda Elementary’s upper campus last week. The bees hung around for about 15 minutes and no one was stung, but the playground was shut down as a precaution. Experts offer this advice if you happen upon a swarm: Don’t throw anything at it or disturb it; do not kill or attempt to kill the bees; watch and wait – most likely they will just move along. PHOTO by CHARLA SALMERON
by KIM HILSENBECK
BUDA — A swarm of honeybees temporarily shut down the upper playground at Buda Elementary School on Thursday.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Principal Charla Salmeron, who ordered the evacuation.
The swarm had a cone-like shape that completely surrounded a branch of a tree in front of the upper campus. It was not a hive, according to Salmeron.
“Under the bees were more bees,” said Salmeron. “They seemed to be at least three bees deep around the tree.”
She estimated thousands of bees were in the swarm.
Salmeron went to get the maintenance manager for the campus. As they walked, he told her it’s not legal to kill honeybees in Texas. However, if they interfere with human habitats, they can be removed and killed.
By the time they got back to the playground, the swarm had moved on. The incident lasted about 15 minutes, and no children or school employees were stung, according to Salmeron.
“If I hadn’t taken a picture, I might not have believed it was true,” she said.
Experts call this a temporary swarm – the bees gather in one spot for a while, then leave. They are waiting for scout bees to find a new home for the hive.
According to the Department of Entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, swarming is an instinctive part of the life cycle of honey bees.
Warm winters and overcrowding are two key factors in bee colony swarming. Under such conditions, an established honeybee colony may subdivide; one or more swarms will then leave the hive to find a suitable location.