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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bee swarm removed from car on campus

Beekeepers use vacuum, box to transport bees

bee
By Junfu Han / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Local beekeepers Zoe Economou, left, and Claude Stephenson were called to campus Wednesday after a swarm of bees set up shop in a student’s truck. The beekeepers take away the insects for free because of a bee shortage. They said bee infestations are common this time of year.

Beekeepers, firefighters, security personnel and Physical Plant Department technicians gathered Wednesday morning in the R parking lot to deal with an unusual problem — a swarm of bees.

The swarm gathered on a dark green truck parked near Coronado dorm. Zoe Economou and her husband Claude Stephenson — beekeepers from the South Valley — were called to address the problem.

“Somebody found them on their truck, and they probably want to use their truck,” Economou said. “They’re swarming, probably trying to protect the queen bee. Wherever the queen bee goes, the rest follow.”

Residence Life security personnel John Paiz said he was alerted about the problem at about 9 a.m., and caution tape was erected around the infested truck.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Albuquerque Fire Department firefighters were on scene and brought a generator to power the vacuum cleaner needed to get rid of the bees.

Economou and Stephenson vacuumed the bees into a box with plans to take the bees back to their South Valley home.

“You can pretty much take the swarm and put it in a box, and if you have the queen they’ll all come with,” Economou said. “They don’t really care about you. They just care about the queen.”

UNM Physical Plant technician Felix Vallejos said the swarm was one of three this spring that have already been removed, but he’s never seen bees swarm on a vehicle.

“They’ll swarm anywhere I guess, but usually it’s on trees and shrubs,” he said.

Vallejos said Economou and Stephenson removed bees from UNM’s campus before, and they do it for free because of the state’s bee shortage.

Economou said she enjoys working with bees and isn’t scared to get close to them.

“Really, it’s not terribly scary,” she said. “Nobody likes to get stung, but bee stings are really not bad at all, and I doubt these are killer bees.”