Thousands of Bees swarm patio at Shelbyville taproom

Posted at 10:35 PM, Apr 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 22:37:25-04

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. -- Thousands of bees forced a Shelbyville restaurant to close their patio during the lunch hour rush on Monday. 

Workers at the Riverfront Taproom on North Harrison St in Shelbyville noticed the swarm of bees all over a table and chair on the patio - and it wasn't just a few bees flying around - there were thousands of bees!

JoAnn Kelsay with Riverfront Taproom said the bees showed up around the lunch hour and caused quite a stir. The restaurant called one of their neighbors, beekeeper Karen Conover, to deal with the bees.  

Conover was working out of town so it took her a couple of hours to respond and by the time she arrived most of the swarm had moved on but part of the swarm was still in the area.

She said the most important thing for people to know when they see something like this is to not be scared, leave them alone and call a beekeeper.  

“They won’t bother you, Don’t spray, swat or try to kill them," said Conover. "They likely will not hurt you, they are simply waiting to find the location of their new hive and they will move on within several hours.“ 

Conover said, “This happens every spring as the bees mate and form new colonies. The warm temperatures and the nice weather probably drew them out to carry on the spring ritual.“

Conover described the bee mating process like this: Every hive has a queen bee. When the hive makes a new queen in the spring, the old queen takes part of the hive and they leave to find a new place to settle.

In this case, she says the bees were ”swarming the queen bee” to protect her while “bee scouts” were sent out to locate a new home for a hive. Once they find it they return to the swarm and let the other bees know it’s time to go. She said that happens within a few hours but no more than 24 hours.  The bees always follow the queen, so where she goes they go.

Conover again pointed out “If they are not in the way, leave them alone and call a beekeeper. They will not hurt you and just want to be left alone while they carry out their natural reproductive cycle.“

The new hive could be in a hollowed out tree in the woods somewhere. As soon as the bees arrive they begin establishing a new colony and they will immediately start drawing comb to store nectar and pollen from flowers to make honey.  

“There is no set timetable on how long it takes to make the honey," Conover said. "It depends on the weather and what available plants are blooming at that particular time and in that area. “

Hives can contain as many as 30,000 bees or more depending on if the hive has enough room for all of the bees.

Conover took some of the bees from a secondary, much smaller swarm, to her home in a box. She says they are very docile and easily went into the box for transport to the hives at her house.

Things are back to normal at the Riverfront Taproom but it will be awhile before that buzz wears off.

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