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Poetry Club’s Beekeeper Defends Bowery Hives

bees5Philip Ross The swarm capture on Wednesday.

Before Bee Week concludes here on The Local, we should mention that Timothy O’Neal, the beekeeper who tends to the bees on the rooftop of the 308 Bowery, got back to us today to tell us why exactly he thinks the bees that swarmed near Bleecker Street on Wednesday likely came from a neighboring hive rather than those belonging to Bowery Poetry Club owner Bob Holman.

According to the beekeeper, swarms don’t leave a hive until developing queens are properly nursed and are a day or two from emerging as adults. “When I inspected his hives, I found signs that they were preparing to swarm by creating queen cells, but that they were not far enough along for the swarm to have departed, and the population density was very high,” Mr. O’Neal wrote in an e-mail to The Local.  Read more…

Bees Swarm Near Bleecker

Photos: Philip Ross

Police were called to the area of the Chase Bank on Bowery around 1:30 p.m. today, but not because of another robbery: in a tree in front of the bank was a watermelon-sized cluster of bees.

A group of about 20 bystanders congregated near the taped-off tree between East First Street and Bleecker Street, snapping photos of the teeming, light-brown mass sagging from the tree branch. Some grumbled about the bees receiving so much attention (a squad car, a police van, and an emergency service vehicle blocked a lane of traffic).

Sans protective gear, a beekeeper called in to remove the swarm climbed on top of the emergency vehicle and, with a pair of hedge trimmers, cautiously removed the branches around it.

When it came time to extract the swarm, a police officer joined the beekeeper on the roof of the emergency vehicle. He extended a white Styrofoam box directly underneath the swarm as the beekeeper cut the branch that supported the mass. A lid was placed over the box. A couple of observers clapped in approval.

Watch our slideshow to see the drama unfold.