A different type of tourist: 15,000 bees swarm Capitol Hill

Politicians weren’t the only thing buzzing around Capitol Hill on Friday. As it turns out, around 15,000 honey bees were interested in touring the main Senate entrance of the U.S. Capitol Building.

After the bees landed in a tree, beekeepers were called in to capture and ultimately remove the swarm. There were three volunteer beekeepers that came to the rescue, including a top congressional aide. They all worked without protective suits so they had to use extra care to catch the queen and her thousands of children.

One of the volunteers, Rachel Perry, works for Capitol Bee Care, an organization that protects honey bee colonies that are dying off in large quantities. According to Perry the bees were out searching for a new larger home.

“Wearing just a scarf hanging over her head, Perry sat patiently beneath the tree luring the bees into a hole in a medium-sized cardboard box that was sealed with gaffers tape, gently nudging with a brush the last stragglers inside.”

U.S. Capitol Police officers had to cordon off the area and keep passerby safe from the bees. The beekeepers did assure officers that no one was likely to be stung by the honey filled bees. They explained that before leaving their nests they gorge on honey to survive the trip.

Since lawmakers finished their votes on Thursday they were absent from all of the buzzy excitement. Fortunately this freed up Cynthia Martin, a lawyer who is chief of staff for Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich), who describes herself as an honeybee hobbyist. With the help of the other two beekeepers she was able to capture her first swarm.

“Before pulling away, Martin said, ‘The only thing that is scary is when you’re driving and a bee gets loose.’ She said she would bring them to her house to join another nest she already cares for in her backyard.”

Fortunately for all bees, Martin’s interest in bees has bled over into her job on Capitol Hill. Rep. Conyers has actually pushed legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to study if certain approved insecticides are contributing to the vanishing of the bees.