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Bees trap shoppers in liquor store

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Marauding bees held shoppers hostage inside a Los Angeles liquor store for two hours on Thanksgiving while engaging firefighters in a tense standoff, officials said Friday.

The bees showed up suddenly at the front door of Sam's Mini Market in the northern Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth at about 11 a.m. Thursday as customers were making last-minute holiday purchases, said store owner Kawaljit Singh. "A lot of them came in a second," Singh told Reuters. "One customer, he was trying to walk out and he said, 'Look at that!' There was a dark cloud."

The customer slammed the door shut and the siege began.

The bees, which had built a hive under the liquor store sign, trapped Singh, two customers and an employee inside the store for about two hours as firefighters repeatedly doused the insects with firefighting foam.

"All of them got dead but they were still coming from somewhere," Singh said, adding that as one swarm of bees was killed, another wave would appear.

"We would foam some of them and the bees would leave and then come back. It became a question of who can outlast the other," fire department spokesman Bob Collis said.

The fire crew gave the bees one last soaking and urged customers to make a run for it at around 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST), then left Singh to battle the stragglers, Collis said. "We assumed they were not the Africanized type because they were not aggressive -- they were just flying around," Collis said.

After mopping up gallons of foam and bee bodies, Singh attacked the hive one last time -- this time with a can of bug spray from his own shelves.

"That worked pretty good," he said. "I hope they don't come back. We don't want them."

Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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