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Swarm surprises downtown workers
Bee pic1
Hundreds of bees were seen swarming in front of the Law Offices of Frank Lima on Center Street in downtown Turlock on Tuesday. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Rosemary Hughes is used to dealing with bees. A large jasmine bush located just outside of her downtown office building is a popular place for bees to congregate come warm weather. On Tuesday, however, the flying visitors were more than just a temporary nuisance.

Hundreds of bees were seen swarming around Center Street on Tuesday afternoon, and especially in front of the Law Offices of Frank Lima, where Hughes works. When a neighboring business owner came over to warn Hughes of the tornado of bees outside her office door, she was shocked at the number of bees and their peculiar behavior.

“I literally just about fell over,” she said.

A worker for BJ’s Consumer Choice Pest Control was driving down Crane Avenue on Tuesday afternoon when he spotted the swarming bees and pulled over for a closer look. He then called his office to report the strange sight.

“This time of year — when spring is here — the bees are active and it does pick up quite a bit,” said Don Locke of BJ’s Consumer Choice Pest Control. “That’s when we get calls about swarms of bees at a house or business.”

Locke said the bees swarming around Center Street on Tuesday could have been a “rogue hive” that escaped a beekeeper’s box. Millions of honey bees have been hard at work in the Turlock area almond orchards over the past few weeks. Bees are the main source of pollination for the trees.

Locke said that normally a swarm of bees found near office buildings are just passing through, and possibly in search of their queen. Bees have been known, however, to build hives in cinderblock buildings and chimneys. He didn’t think there was any need to worry about the bees that took a liking to Center Street on Tuesday — as long as they were left alone.

“Odds are they are European honey bees and are very docile, however, if they fear for their lives or you agitate them, who knows what could happen,” Locke said.

The UC Cooperative Extension advises staying away from all honey bee swarms and colonies. If bees are encountered, the Cooperative suggests getting away quickly. While running away, try to protect face and eyes as much as possible. Take shelter in a car or building. Water or thick brush does not offer enough protection. The Cooperative also recommends not swatting at bees, as rapid motions will cause them to sting.

If stung by a bee, the Cooperative recommends first going to a safe area, then pulling or scraping stingers from skin as soon as possible — the stinger pumps out most of the venom during the first minute.

After the stingers are removed, wash area with soap and water, apply ice and seek medical attention if breathing is troubled or if stung numerous times.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.