Times Square was a hive of activity Tuesday afternoon, as more than 40,000 bees swarmed a hot dog stand at the corner of Broadway and West 43rd Street.
Known as an absconded hive, the bees were looking for a new home to escape the sweltering heat, said Officer Darren Mays, one of the New York Police Department’s two official beekeepers.
“The hive got overcrowded because it was hot and humid and they just needed a new place to go so they can keep cool,” Mays said. He also runs the official NYPD Bees Twitter account, which was buzzing with likes and retweets as many New Yorkers learned that their police force had beekeepers on staff.
Mays said the bees likely went looking for a new home after leaving one of the rooftop hives of a nearby building.
Second-beekeeper-in-command, Officer Michael Lauriano, responded to the scene in full protective gear, including a netted bee helmet. It took Lauriano 45 minutes to carefully vacuum the bees. The street was cordoned off and no injuries were reported, according to the NYPD.
Mays confirmed the bees have been safely stored in a hive box and are being transported by police van to an apiary on Long Island.
“Unfortunately, they won’t be able to make any honey this season,” said Mays, explaining that they will have to be well fed to make it through the winter.
Mays, who has served since 2014 as the NYPD’s beekeeper in addition to his regular duties, said this has been one of the slowest bee seasons in recent years. He has had to make similar “scoops” in the past.
Hives of this scale have been buzzing around Manhattan for some time, said Detective Hubert Reyes, public Information officer for the NYPD. “That’s why we have a beekeeper. You gotta be ready for everything right?”