City Desk

D.C. Beekeepers on the Hunt for Loose Bees

With spring approaching, Washington's urban beekeepers are gearing up to hunt for more bees, and they want tips from the public.

"The general public always freaks right the heck out if they see a swarm of bees," says Toni Burnham, one of the beekeepers in the D.C. Beekeepers Alliance. The beekeepers are asking asking people who see swarming bees this spring to call 202-255-4318 or email dcbees@dcbeekeepers.org so that the beekeepers can catch them. It's part of what Burnahm describes as their efforts to "be really good neighbors and get those bees."

Burnham's bee-catching kit is simple, and includes a bed sheet, a cardboard box, and a soft brush. After getting a tip about wild bees, she'll show up and use the brush to push them into the box, which she likens to working with a mass of pastry.

Burnham says it's easy to capture the swarming bees, which are looking for a nest and as a result don't have much to defend. "Swarm bees are just chill," she says.

The urban beekeepers want to breed the swarming bees because their large numbers right after the winter suggest strong natural resistances that could improve the troubled species.

"That's the future of the honeybee, if we're going to have one," she says.

Bee swarm photo by Shutterstock

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