Even bees get the craving for a New York street hot dog as was evidenced yesterday afternoon when more than 40,000 bees swarmed a hotdog stand in Manhattan, a block south of Times Square, at around 1 pm.
Thousands of spectators caught the incident on a Reuters Livestream since the stand is located directly outside the news agency’s New York headquarters and witnessed as a police officer arrived at the scene to remove the bees with a vacuum cleaner.
A section of the street at the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue had to be closed as the bees were removed from the stand. While Officer Michael Lauriano donned a beekeeper’s hat and approached the hotdog stand, other members of the NYPD stood guard.
According to Officer Darren Mays, one of the New York Police Department's two official beekeepers, the swarm was the result of an absconded hive, which left the bees looking for a new home to escape the sweltering heat.
"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.
The bees were gathered in a roughly 15-square-foot compact cluster. Lauriano then proceeded to vacuum up the bees, which took about 40 minutes. By 3 pm, he had removed most of the bees, though some remained around a soft drink display at the hotdog stand.
"Unfortunately, they won't be able to make any honey this season," Mays added, explaining that they may not survive the winter if they don’t find food and shelter.
Andrew Coté, who presides the New York City Beekeepers Association, was asked by the NYPD to supervise the removal. Using a specially adapted vacuum cleaner was common, Coté said. He provided the 40,000 bees estimated, but added that “you’ve got to count the legs and divide by six to be sure.”
Coté, who joked that the bees probably “wanted a hot dog,” explained that the late-August swarm had likely occurred as a result of an ill-managed hive. He added that there were a number of hives being kept within a block of the hotdog stand.
By 3:15 pm police had opened the street again, though a number of bees still swarmed the scene. Coté reprimanded reporters for stepping out of the way when the bees flew past. “You won’t die,” Coté said. “Unless you’re anaphylactic.” Not funny.