An experienced apiarist has said that a popular video showing a swarm of bees inside a car could have been orchestrated.
Swarming occurs when a group of honeybees leaves an established colony and flies off to establish a new colony.
Swarm Hitches Lift Inside Car 1 from News X on Vimeo.
Footage of large groups of bees gathering in unusual places such as vehicles and homes has always fascinated people around the world.
The most recent example is a clip that emerged on Chinese social media sites showing a man driving his car while a swarm rests close to his head. The footage reportedly originates from Huangshan, a mountain range in Anhui Province.
To shed some light on the phenomenon in general and this video in particular, NewsX consulted three renowned beekeepers from around the world.
Matthias Kopetzky from the Viennese District Apiary (Wiener Bezirksimkerei) told NewsX: “It’s certainly within the bounds of possibility that a swarm settles in a car if a window is open. However, in this case, I would not rule out that the whole thing has been staged.”
He explained: “The relaxed attitude of the driver indicates that he’s most probably a beekeeper. Maybe this didn’t happen accidentally at all. They could have placed a queen bee there so the swarm settled around it.”
Matthias – who looks back on 10 years of beekeeping experience – added: “What also struck me is the lack of activity here. The swarm is resting perfectly still. At least some scout bees should be buzzing around it.
“But who knows – this video could have been shot in the early morning hours and they have been calm because of a cold night.”
Speaking about the various misconceptions concerning swarming, Matthias explained: “Generally, it has to be said that a swarm of bees is very peaceful. You’d have to make many mistakes to get stung.”
New Zealand beekeeper Jason Prior has also watched the video.
Jason – who owns DownUnder Honey – said the pollinators seen in the footage were probably Asian honeybees or western honeybees (Apis mellifera).
The Cheltenham-based producer of Manuka honey, lozenges and beeswax warned: “The bees are only attached to the ceiling because they are holding onto one another, so any sudden jolt and they could fall off.”
He further explained: “If the bees have only recently swarmed then they will have honey in their bodies and be docile, but the question is how long they have been there.”
Jason underlined that bees “are feral and their behaviour is not always easy to judge.”
Jason said anyone spotting a swarm should ask a professional to remove it.
NewsX also spoke to Octavio Re from Mundo Abeja in Mallin, Cordoba, Argentina.
The biologist and apiarist said: “Swarming is common, but what we are seeing here – bees without any activity – is rare.”
Octavio suggested the colony might be taking a break after a long trip.
He added anyone who encounters a honeybee swarm should not panic.
Octavio explained: “The best choice is to wait and see what the population does. If possible, let a professional take control.”