Carol Howarth most likely never expected a trip to the grocery store to end in a rescue operation. But that’s exactly what happened. A queen bee had somehow gotten trapped inside her vehicle; a swarm of 20,000 bees followed, and a team of experts were called to save the day.
The woman had parked her Mitsubishi Outlander in the town of Haverfordwest, Wales, to do some shopping. It’s not clear how or when the queen bee got inside, but the car was soon swarming near the rear hatch of the vehicle. At some point while Howarth was away, a local named Tom Moses happened by her car, saw the swarm, and got worried.
“It was spectacular. I was driving through when I spotted the big brown splodge,” said Moses. “A lot of people were really amazed by it, cars were slowing down and people were taking pictures of it.
“I was a little bit concerned, with it being in the middle of town outside a pub, that someone might do something stupid and get hurt or do something stupid and hurt the bees.”
Fortunately, Moses did the right thing and called the local beekeepers. They arrived, and they were able to remove the bees before Howarth had even returned from shopping. But she hadn’t seen the last of the bees—not yet anyway. The queen still remained fugitive.
“The next day I realized that some of the bees had followed me home,” Howarth said.
It turned out that the queen was somehow still trapped inside the vehicle. So, Howarth called the beekeepers back for another rescue attempt, and this time, it was successful.
The queen was rescued, safe and sound, and reunited with her subjects. Meanwhile, Roger Burns of Pembrokeshire Beekeepers surmised on how her majesty had ended up in the predicament in the first place. “We think the queen bee had been attracted to something in the car, perhaps something sweet, and had got into a gap on the boot’s wiper blade or perhaps the hinge,” he said.
“The swarm of around 20,000 had followed her and were sat around on the boot of the car.”
In his 30 years of beekeeping, Burns says he’s never seen anything like it. “It is natural for them to follow the queen but it is a strange thing to see and quite surprising to have a car followed for two days. It was quite amusing,” he added.