Editor’s note: The city originally said a hive fell from the tree. However, a beekeeper has since clarified it was a swarm of bees that was too heavy for the tree and fell.
Several bees, including a queen bee, were exterminated on Wednesday after a swarm got too heavy for a downtown Edmonton tree, causing the bees to fall to the ground.
The City of Edmonton said the honeybees fell to the ground in the area of 104 Street and 104 Avenue, causing them to swarm. Someone in the area called an exterminator, who destroyed the insects.
Meaghan Jolicoeur works in the area and said several people noticed the bees on a branch of a tall tree at around 10 a.m. Wednesday. She said the bugs eventually got too heavy for the branch and they fell to the ground. That’s when the exterminators arrived and, to her surprise, sprayed the bees.
“I thought they weren’t going to kill them. I thought, ‘There’s no way.’ And then they did,” she said.
“When they were sprayed, they flew in the air and within a couple minutes they were just falling. Falling dead,” she continued.
“It was raining bees.”
The city said it was not made aware of the situation until after the bees were exterminated. However, Jolicoeur said the city was notified as soon as the bees were discovered.
She said she was disappointed to see the bees killed.
“It was devastating. People were walking by and the bees weren’t bothering them,” she said. “They were walking by like there was nothing there. They kind of just moved out of the way.
“People who were scared or nervous just backed up and went another way. There was no reason to think they were dangerous… They were honeybees.”
The company that exterminated the bees, Harlow Pest Control, said its technician believed the bees to be in danger.
The company sent Global News the following statement:
“Harlow Pest policy is to not implement any harm to pollinating insects unless the insect is aggressive in nature and poses an immediate risk of harm to the general public or people with allergies,” the statement reads.
“The technician did have a calibrated vacuum to remove pollinating honeybees onsite in hopes to remove the colony of 10,000 insects to an in-house alternate location, however, was forced to take immediate action to eliminate the insects because of their aggression in a high-traffic area. Once one bee stings, a pheromone is released sending a message to the colony to attack the invader to the colony. Once the technician was stung in this case, he had choice but to defend himself and the general public.”
The remaining bees went up into the trees in the area of 103 Avenue and 105 Street. A swarm of them could be seen gathering in a tree in the area of 105 Street and 104 Avenue on Thursday morning. Several dead bees were still lying on the sidewalk.
The city’s pest management team was called in early Thursday morning to safely collect the remaining bees and hand them over to a beekeeper.
Dustin Bajer, a local beekeeper who teaches beekeeping classes, said he heard about the swarm Wednesday and went to the scene as soon as he could.
Bajer arrived about 20 minutes after the extermination.
He recommends anyone who sees a swarm contact the city at 311, so the city can get in touch with a beekeeper to relocate the insects.
With files from Kent Morrison, Global News.