June 5, 2013
City removes bee swarm
Insects gather in tree above Main Street and Clinton Avenue
On Tuesday morning, it looked as if a queen and her subjects would have the best seats for Cortland’s annual June Dairy Parade festivities.
A swarm of honey bees roughly the size of a cantaloupe decided to post up in the tree on the corner of Clinton Avenue and Main Street in front of the former Hong Kong Restaurant — right in the middle of the evening parade route.
Authorities were alerted to the uninvited guests Friday afternoon and the affected area had been cordoned off with yellow caution tape.
But, just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, Public Works Superintendent Chris Bistocchi, Cortland Police Lt. David M. Guerrera and a uniformed officer arrived with Al Saracene, the former owner of Nordic Sports in downtown Cortland and a beekeeper by hobby, to carefully tend to the situation.
Police were there to make sure things went smoothly, but Bistocchi and the DPW was present because Saracene needed the aid of a “cherry picker” truck to reach the branch where the queen bee and her workers were huddled together about 15 feet off the ground.
“We normally use it to put up banners and to fix traffic signals,” Bistocchi said. “This is the first time we’ve used it for anything like this.”
Donned in full beekeeper’s garb and armed with a simple cardboard box and a ball-peen hammer, Saracene held the box underneath the swarm and gently tapped the branch until the bees were safely inside.
Once on the ground, Saracene used duct tape to seal it shut. The whole process took no longer than five minutes.
“Normally, I would cut the branch and lower the whole thing into the box,” said Saracene. “A few bees might cluster back on the branch,” he added, but he said they would soon be on their way.
When asked how the bees made their way onto Main Street, Saracene said, “Wherever the parent (main) hive is, it gets overcrowded and the queen makes the decision they have to split.”
When this happens, she takes two-thirds of the worker bees with her. The tree on the corner was most likely a temporary home for the swarm while “scout bees” actively searched for a new parent hive location.
Saracene said that he plans on bringing the queen to a hive that he keeps on his property, so the wayward bees would have a new, permanent home very soon.
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