AUBURN – Pesticides are likely to blame for thousands of dead honey bees littering the sidewalks around Festival Plaza Monday morning.
Construction crews said they found a hive in trees below the plaza Friday, near the RiverPark II building. They said the hive was gone when they arrived for work Monday.
Auburn beekeeper Bernie Parker guessed that the bees were part of a swarm that had broken off from a larger hive nearby.
“They swarm around and send out scouts until they find a permanent place to live,” Parker said. He didn’t believe they had chosen Festival Plaza as their permanent home.
“They probably stopped there for a few days, and they’d have been on their way,” he said.
Paul Mitchell of TCI Construction noticed the hive Friday afternoon, just below Festival Plaza in the alley between the plaza and the RiverPark building. The bees were gone when the crew arrived Monday morning, he said.
Brenda Tarmey of T.H. Creations noticed the dead bees Monday morning. The little carcasses littered the sidewalk around the front of her office, she said.
“We didn’t know what it was,” she said. “It’s weird, whatever it is.”
Parker said he thought someone sprayed the swarm. He investigated and found thousands of dead bees under the trees below the plaza.
“I ran my hand through and none of them moved,” he said.
Thousands of groggy bees littered Festival Plaza Monday afternoon, on the concrete ground and in the colored canopies above. Some appeared to shake off the effects of the poison and were buzzing around. But Parker said he expects they’ll be gone in a few days.
“Without a queen, they’ll just disperse,” he said. “It’s a shame, too. People don’t realize how valuable a swarm of honey bees is if you can catch them. They’re worth $50 or $60 easily, but most people don’t know that and just spray them with a can of Raid.”