Pentagon Faces New Enemy: 10,000 Honey Bees

There were chuckles all around the Pentagon today as an alert notice appeared on computers warning buidling employees a swarm of bees had parked themsleves outside an entrance to the building.

By coincidence, a short time later a fire alarm led to the evacuation of a portion of the building.   On the way out of the building a Pentagon employee was overheard saying "I wonder if it's the swarm of bees?"

The two events turned out to be unconnected, but they piqued journalists interest in the "hive" of activity at the Pentagon's Mall Entrance.

A short time later another building notification told building employees that bee specialists had been called in to deal with the bee swarm at that entrance.

At that point my assignment desk asked me to get video footage of the swarm at the Pentagon.

When I arrived at the entrance I found out that a swarm of about 10,000 European honey bees had landed on the branch of a small tree just outside the Mall Entrance. That entrance is thankfully one of the lesser traveled entrances in and out of the building.

I encountered some amateur beekeepers who work at the Pentagon and who  after seeing the internal alerts had shown up to assist the local beekeeper called to resolve the situation.

The beekeeper cut off a portion of the branch and placed it in a cardboard box with the expectation that most would follow their Queen Bee into the box.

Air Force Lt. Col. Craig Bucher was one of the amateur beekeepers who had arrived to help.  With the bees safely in the box, he planned to take them home and share them with fellow bee enthusiasts.

"Now that we have the hive, " Bucher said, "I'm in touch with others in the area who would really jump at the opportunity to incorporate it in their home.

"I'm going to take this hive home with me and then put the word out to someone who can hopefully give them a good home," he said.

Bucher explained that the swarm of bees had likely split off from another hive and followed a new Queen Bee to look for a new home.  He said that typically a mature hive would have between 30,000 to 50,000 bees so the Pentagon swarm might have numbered 10,000.

He estimated that the bees who'd landed on the tree "had stopped to rest" there as they were looking for a new home.

When I got close to the cardboard box with my camera, I was shocked to see through my viewfinder how many bees were inside the box.  I've always been leery of bees, but I was reassured by Bucher that "they're actually very docile when they're swarming."  And that was the case.  Though they buzzed around my camera lens and my nervous hands, the bees were nice to this intrepid videographer.

When most of the swarm had nestled themselves in the box, Bucher sealed it up with some duct tape for the car ride to the bees' new home.