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Bees head for Sainsbury's as the queen buzzes off

Reporter: Jacob Metcalf
Date online: 11 August 2017

THERE was a real buzz around Oldham Gallery when a swarm of bees, estimated to be 30,000 strong, took to the air.

The swarm appeared after the queen bee seemingly grew frustrated with the business of her hive at the Gallery and decided to up sticks.

As she made her departure she was followed by thousands of bees from the hive and they eventually settled on a planted area between the Gallery and Sainsbury's.

It is understood the queen made her great escape after the hive became too busy. What follows is that the swarm will split, with one group leaving to search for a new area to make a hive, usually miles away.

And this made Oldham Gallery bee keeper Jonathan Downs's task a little more difficult, as he could not simply take the bees back to their hive because they would only leave again.

Kitted out in his bee keeper suit he set about trying to collect the bees using a skep - an old fashioned beehive - and various brushes.

Speaking before the unenviable task of collecting the swarm, Jonathan said: "It is a swarm of bees which has come out of one of the hives at the Gallery.

"They have followed the queen. The queen leaving is a method of reproduction when the hive gets too busy."

He said: added: "It is going to be really, really, difficult to move them, you have got to get them into the skep, then throw a blanket on them and take them to another venue because they won't go back into the hive now.

"You have to take them at least three miles away from the site because if you don't they will just keep leaving."

When asked whether he knew where the queen bee was, he said: "I don't know whether she's in the skep or the tree. It is going to be a tetchy one."


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