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20,000 swarming bees take over New York hot dog stand, shutting down street corner

Police were called to deal with the swarm, which likely originated from a mismanaged hive

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2018, 2:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2018, 2:44pm

Productivity came to a halt across New York City offices on Tuesday afternoon, as hordes of people eagerly followed the removal of 20,000 bees from a hot dog stand.

The bees had swarmed the hot dog stand, a block south of Times Square, around 1pm.

Thousands watched a Reuters live-stream – the stand is located outside the news agency’s New York headquarters – and followed on Twitter as a police officer was called in to remove the bees. With a vacuum cleaner.

A section of the street at the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue was closed as the delicate procedure took place.

Officers from the New York police department stood guard, some more willingly than others, as one of their colleagues donned a beekeeper’s hat and approached the hot dog stand.

The bees had gathered in a densely packed, roughly 15-square-foot clump, and the unidentified officer, who wore a white jacket, thick gloves and has a moustache, proceeded to vacuum up the bees. The bee cleansing took about 40 minutes, much of which was watched online.

By around 3pm, the officer, who told journalists he “has training”, had removed the bulk of the bees, but many remained in the area, swarming around a selection of soft drinks displayed on the hot dog stall.

Asked if it was safe to remain in the area, a uniformed police officer pointed to his colleague and said: “He’s sucking them up.” He added: “There’ll be no more problems.”

Andrew Coté, who runs the New York City beekeepers’ association, had answered a call from the NYPD and was watching as the bees were removed. Removal by vacuum cleaner – it was a specially adapted vacuum cleaner – was common, Coté said. He estimated there were 20,000 bees on the umbrella, but joked: “You’ve got to count the legs and divide by six to be sure.”

Coté said of the bees’ motivation: “I think they wanted a hot dog.”

Under further questioning, Coté clarified that instead this late-August swarm had likely occurred because of an ill-managed beehive. He said there were a number of hives within a block of the hot dog stand. By 3.15pm police had reopened the street, although a number of bees were still on the scene. Coté chastised this reporter for ducking as some of the bees flew past.

“You won’t die,” Coté said. “Unless you’re anaphylactic.”