Bees swarm campus trash cans


Honey bees have been gathering around trash cans on campus for the past two weeks.

“It is the peak time of the population for honey bees,” said Sharon Dobesh, pesticide coordinator in the Department of Entomology. “They are just looking for new sources of nutrition since flower populations are declining.”

Dobesh said the bees are attracted to anything sweet like ice cream, soda or candy. They gather around garbage cans because many people throw away open containers of soda and partially eaten candy bars.

John Woods, director of custodial services for the Department of Facilities, said he placed two bowls of ice cream outside opposite ends of Hale Library. Bees immediately swarmed to the bowls in search of food. Woods said although the bees did swarm more quickly on one side of Hale, he still has not determined from where the bees come.

Dobesh said the bees probably are foraging for their nest and might have come from someone in Manhattan who has honey bee hives.

Until the source of the bees can be found, Woods said students need to be more careful with their garbage. He said students need to put tops back on their drinks or pour them out on the grass before they throw them away. Students also should not throw away any type of open wrapper or container of sweet substances like jelly or candy.

Although honey bees are usually not dangerous to the public, they can be life-threatening to people who are allergic to them. Honey bees can only sting once in their lifetime, but they usually travel in groups, Dobesh said.

“It’s kind of annoying, but there is nothing you can do about it,” Frankie Morales, sophomore in anthropology, said. “I do not expect the garbage people to come by every five minutes and clear the garbage cans.”

No incidents of stings or other problems have been reported, but since this is a time of the year when the bee population is high, people still need to be careful. Dobesh said the best way to avoid confrontation with the bees is to stay out of their way. They usually do not actively seek people unless they are agitated or provoked.

Many students are not worried about the bees, though, especially with the approach of colder weather.

“Winter is coming, so most of the bees should die anyway,” Morales said.