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Bee swarm moves from shoreline to a new, warmer home in Richmond

The Marina Way South bee swarm huddles on the hydrant to keep the queen warm.

Richmond had some uplifting and noteworthy events last weekend, including the long-awaited opening of the national park visitors center and the departure of the battleship USS Iowa on Saturday and a touching Memorial Day observance at the SS Red Oak Victory on Monday.
But for our money, the most heartwarming event of the weekend took place Saturday on Marina Way South, a block away from where a crowd was gathered for the dedication of the new visitors center.
A swarm of bees that had taken refuge for several days on an EBMUD hydrant near the end of Marina Way South by the Bay Trail was cordoned off by yellow police tape Saturday morning as two Richmond squad cars kept watch on the scene. A day earlier only a few traffic cones had marked the area where the bees were huddling together.
Would this be the end of the hiveless swarm that was clinging like magnetic particles to the cast-iron hydrant?
Fear not.

Only some traffic cones warned passersby last Friday of a swarm of bees that had taken refuge for several days on an EBMUD hydrant near the Bay Trail on Marina Way South.

Around noon on Saturday, a home beekeeper had been summoned to relocate the swarm.
Christine Bartlett, a Richmond resident who called herself “an amateur beekeeper,” was on the scene herding the queen and workers into a wooden hive. She
said the European honeybees would be taken “to my back yard by Alvarado Park.”
Bartlett is a member of the Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association, which maintains an online list of volunteers available to relocate bees during what is known as “swarm season.” Volunteers are available by area, ready to cnduct a relocation for a $50 donation to the association.
If people see a similar swarm, “Tell them to call us,” Bartlett said.
She noted the importance of bees for propagation of plants and crops and said that while bees are now in the spotlight as an irreplaceable part of the ecosystem, “We’ve been doing this before they became precious to the public.”
Bartlett said the Marina Way swarm was indeed huddling on the hydrant.
“They are because they’re cold,” she said. “They keep the queen in the middle, trying to keep her warm.”
As for why the swarm chose the hydrant, Bartlett said that was puzzling. The attraction wasn’t leaking water, she said, adding that the swarm needs the temperature to reach a certain level before it will move and “If anything the hydrant is colder,” she said.

Below is video of Bartlett at work collecting the bees for relocation.

Chris Treadway