40,000 bees removed from Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booth

"Honey bees are the only species of stinging insect that act in this manner, that swarm," said Don Shump.
By Brooks Hays   |   June 19, 2014 at 12:09 PM

PHILADELPHIA, June 19 (UPI) -- A lane of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed briefly at the Valley Forge Interchange as a bee removal crew excised a swarm of some 40,000 that had gathered around the lights atop one of the toll booths.

Turnpike officials said traffic was not affected, but that several of the "Cash" toll lanes nearby were momentarily made "EZPass Only" lanes.

"We certainly didn't want our customers to pull up to a toll and open their window and have bees swarm in," said Turnpike Public Information Manager Mimi Doyle.

Doyle was forced to quickly find a bee removal crew to safely collect the bees and move them elsewhere. Honey bees can't simply be exterminated, as they're rightfully protected for their vital roll in pollination.

Eventually, a team with the Philadelphia Bee Company was able to capture the queen in a large box hive. Once inside, the swarm quickly follows the queen in and the hive is sealed.

Many toll workers chose to evacuate the area near the swarm, but their precaution -- though understandable -- may have been unnecessary.

"Honey bees are the only species of stinging insect that act in this manner, that swarm," bee expert Don Shump said. "And when they are swarming they're really gentle. They're not a sting threat."

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