Videos courtesy Katlynn Funk

By: Laura Keil

The May Long Weekend brought campervans and U-Hauls and cyclists to Valemount – and it also brought a swarm of bees.

Katlynn Funk, Jimmy Lerch and friends caught it on film.

Lerch’s father Gerhard Oberauer had stopped at the Co-op to get gas. He told his son and their friends about it. Lerch, who is allergic to bees, stayed away, but Katlynn Funk and friends drove to the gas bar. They were quickly surrounded by honey bees. Some crawled on the red Diesel sign, others on the black metal posts separating the stalls.

According to the BC Ministry of Agriculture, swarming is a natural phenomenon for bees where part of an existing honeybee colony breaks off and a new honeybee colony is created somewhere else.

This can occur because of crowding in the established hive, but April and May is also swarming season and healthy colonies develop a strong swarm impulse, according to the Ministry website. Luckily, swarms are very docile because the bees feed before leaving the hive.

Local bee keeper Paul Fretts thinks the swarm may not have been natural, however. Given the proximity to the gas bar, he guesses the bees may have been left behind by truck transporting them north.

“They truck bees from Chilliwack to the Peace,” he says. “They likely stopped for fuel.”

The swarm lasted several hours. Lerch, who grew up in Valemount, said he’s never heard of a swarm like this before.

Funk said the bees were persistent on examining her vehicle. When they left, a couple of dozen of them were still on her car. How do you lose a honeybee swarm?

“We drove around for a while to lose them all.”