Bees invade downtown Austin


by FOTI KALLERGIS / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 20 at 9:40 PM

AUSTIN -- An estimated swarm of 20,000 bees invaded a tree near a busy intersection near the warehouse district in downtown Austin Sunday.

The swarm was located in the 400 block of Colorado Street. City of Austin crews partially blocked off the sidewalk to keep the public from getting too close.

"They are swarming over here, and I'm allergic to them," Anthony Fox said Monday. "It will only take me two stings, and I have to get life-flighted."

Fox said he noticed the swarm as he was walking by Sunday. He heard the buzzing and saw the bees huddled at the bottom of a small tree.

"Anyone that walks by and accidentally angers them is going to end up hurt," said Zack Bryor. "And people walk through here with kids every day. That's the biggest danger I see."

Monday morning the swarm was down to several hundred bees after Bee Keeper Wes Schumacher removed most of the swarm by hand.

"Yeah, these are just the stragglers from yesterday," said Schumacher. "It's surprising that they picked 4th and Colorado."

Schumacher returned to get the rest of the bees Monday morning. He said this is the season when bees are leaving their hives to create new colonies.

"The queen landed here. The colony follows where the queen goes. She chose that spot on that sapling, and that's where they hang out until the scout bees can find a suitable home for them to move to," said Schumacher.

Schumacher said it's likely there is a large colony close by.

KVUE News has reported on several bee colonies near the east Austin area. In 2010, an aggressive colony attacked and nearly killed an 85-year-old man who was mowing his lawn.

Schumacher said the downtown bees were not aggressive, but construction and noise in the area could have changed that, especially for the bees that stuck around Monday.

"Considering that this is the second biggest street for partying, I think it's very dangerous. People coming down here to party will anger the bees even more," said Taylor Hamilton.

Schumacher tried to smoke the bees to get them to leave the tree. He said for those that don't leave, they will eventually die with the absence of their queen.

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