Biker Bees Caught in Honey Trap

Bee hive causes buzz on Guadalupe

Bee wrangler Tanya Phillips corrals her buzzing charges.
Bee wrangler Tanya Phillips corrals her buzzing charges.
Photo by Sarah Mortimer

A small crowd gathered on the Drag last Saturday afternoon, as Tanya Phillips – co-owner of Bee Friendly Austin Apiary (Certified Naturally Grown) – lured a hive of bees away from a parked mountain bike and into a honeycomb-filled box.

"C'mon girl, almost there," said Phillips, as she waved a last black-and-yellow squatter onto her honey trap – an effective method, she said, of attracting bee swarms away from public areas. Phillips received a call earlier from the Austin Fire Department about a bike on Guadalupe, just opposite UT's West Mall, that had been temporarily colonized by a swarm. Firefighters had quarantined the area with yellow caution tape earlier that day. "They called about an hour ago and told me to come down," Phillips said, dressed in a beekeeper's bodysuit and mesh helmet.

Phillips, a beekeeper who with her husband keeps backyard hives, said she occasionally performs swarm removals around the city. Typically, she said, bees swarm shaded areas like trees and building undersides, but she has never before seen a swarm colonize a bicycle.

Phillips loaded her quarry into a white foam cooler and emerged stingless; she said only two bees had been lost in the transfer. "It was pretty peaceful," she said. "They weren't very aggressive, but we'll see about that when we get them in the truck." The bees' new home will be Phillips' southwest Austin backyard, where she hopes they will continue to pursue their productive line of work.

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