Huge bee swarm brings London traffic to a standstill

Local bee keeper Phil Clarkson said bees are "very calm and very docile when they are swarming"

Huge bee swarm brings London traffic to a standstill

Image: Transport for London

A giant swarm of bees brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill and sent onlookers ducking for cover in southeast London yesterday.

Commuters stopped in their tracks as the swarm filled the air in Greenwich Church Street, close to Greenwich market, on Tuesday evening.

Many shared videos of the unusual scene on social media, while Transport for London posted a photograph of the bees resting on traffic lights.

Underlying hum

Abigail Hering, who runs a nearby jewellery shop, described the swarm as "absolutely crazy."

She said she could initially hear an "underlying hum," adding: "It was just literally swarming, above the cars around the one-way system."

The swarm stayed for at least an hour, with onlookers shocked at the "hideous" sight, she said.

Beekeeper Phil Clarkson uses a portable hive placed on the roof of a vehicle to capture a swarm of bees in south-east London, 16-05-2017. Image:  Ryan Wilkinson/PA Wire/PA Images

Ms Hering said: "Millions of them on the traffic lights. And then at that point they had come lower so they were actually buzzing around the people.

"And while I was videoing them I looked down and I could see literally the front of me covered in bees.

"They were on me. They were on everybody. They were in your hair, on your top."

Very benign

The swarm later subsided after beekeeper Phil Clarkson and his wife Tracey used a mobile hive to collect many of the insects.

Mr Clarkson, who placed the mobile hive on top of his car, said the swarm possibly came from Greenwich Park.

The portable hive used to collect many of the bees, 16-05-2017. Image:  Ryan Wilkinson/PA Wire/PA Images

He said: "Nobody was stung here today.

"People did get a bit nervous, and they were quite concerned understandably.

"But then when we talked to people and explained to them that actually a swarm is very benign, the likelihood of getting stung is very, very rare, and in most cases it's only when people swat them or squash them on their body that the bee will sting them.

"They're very calm and very docile when they're swarming."

Asked about how common a swarm of this kind is, Mr Clarkson said: "At this time of the year it's quite common, but it is rare to get them to land on such things as traffic lights."