Huge bee swarms buzzing around Clayton, Concord


Colony collapse is still a very real problem around the world, but apparently not in Contra Costa County. A lot of bees have been collected in Contra Costa neighborhoods recently. Experts say the swarms there are pockets of healthy, disease-resistant bees that so far, have been immune from the problems other bees are having.

It's the season to be a bee in Contra Costa County. In Concord, thousand of bees swarmed a car until a kid in a beekeeper suit gathered them up. Shelley Keho lives in the neighborhood where it happened. Her car didn't get swarmed, but she nearly did, thanks to the large colony that's constantly frolicking in her yard. "I'm giving them their space, absolutely. I had three of them fly right into my face yesterday at the back of my car, so I said that's OK. I got your message," she said.

Kehoe says she'll leave well enough alone, but many others won't. "I'm getting anywhere between 5 to 15, maybe even 20 a day," said Mike Stephanos with the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association. He and his fellow beekeepers have been getting swarmed with calls from homeowners asking them to remove what they consider a nuisance. "We pick them up and then we either bring them into our hives or give them to other members of our Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association to start a new hive," Shephanos said.

Stephanos says it's not that there are so many bees, it's that they're out especially early this year thanks to an unusually dry winter and then a wet start to spring. "Because of the rain, and the on and off rain, what happens is I believe they get a little cloistered and so when we get some nice weather, they explode," he said.

Beekeepers say that because they're looking for a home, not defending one, as long as you don't bother them, they won't bother you. But Concord painter Mike Tomasik says his one close encounter was enough. "I was painting on the side of a building and I noticed a lot of bees around the building as I was painting. I don't like bees. I don't like anything that can fly and attack me at the same time," he said.

Despite the fear some people have of bees, experts say extermination should be considered only as a last resort. Beekeepers say that in most cases, an unwanted swarm in a neighborhood can be gathered up and taken in by an organization like the Mt. Diablo Beekeeper Association.

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