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“It’s called a bee-vac”: NYPD plays defense after sucking up 25K bees in Times Square

“It’s called a bee-vac”: NYPD plays defense after sucking up 25K bees in Times Square
[Photo: Scott Bauer/Wikimedia Commons]

Bees are dying off, so some bee lovers were naturally alarmed today when video emerged of the New York Police Department vacuuming up thousands of bees that had descended upon a hot dog stand in Times Square. A live stream provided by Reuters (and shared gleefully by Twitter users who needed a midday distraction) showed an officer covered head-to-toe in protective clothing and wielding what looked like a giant Black+Decker ion vacuum cleaner.

The verified Twitter account for the NYPD’s official beekeepers–which apparently exist–quickly tweeted out some explanations in response to queries about its procedures and what, exactly, would happen to the bees.

“It’s called a bee-vac,” the account tweeted, before promising that the bees would be relocated to another hive.

In followup tweets, the account said about 25,000 bees were relocated to Long Island.

So what caused the bees to swarm? According to the NYPD’s experts, it was probably the humidity–temperatures hit a balmy 95 degrees in New York today–which likely called a cluster to form and seek a cooler location (although admittedly they picked a weird one).

Bee swarms in the Big Apple are apparently not that uncommon. Scroll through the NYPD beekeepers account and you’ll find lots of instances of the department following and removing swarms. Indeed, the New York City Beekeepers Association has an entire photo gallery devoted to swarm removals. The images are meant to educate New Yorkers about what a bee swarm looks like, but I suspect if you were to see one live, you’d know.

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