Huge bee swarm sparks rush-hour standstill

A giant swarm of bees brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill and sent onlookers ducking for cover in southeast London.

Commuters stopped in their tracks as the swarm filled the air in Greenwich Church Street, close to Greenwich market, on Tuesday evening.

Many shared videos of the unusual scene on social media, while Transport for London posted a photograph of the bees resting on traffic lights.

Abigail Hering, who runs a nearby jewellery shop, described the swarm as “absolutely crazy”.

Beekeeper Phil Clarkson uses a portable hive to capture a swarm of bees at Greenwich Church Street
A beekeeper uses a portable hive to capture the swarm

She said she could initially hear an “underlying hum”, adding: “It was just literally swarming, above the cars around the one-way system.”

The swarm stayed for at least an hour, with onlookers shocked at the “hideous” sight, she said.

Ms Hering said: “Millions of them on the traffic lights. And then at that point they’d come lower so they were actually buzzing around the people.

“And while I was videoing them I looked down and I could see literally the front of me covered in bees.

“They were on me. They were on everybody. They were in your hair, on your top.”

A beekeeper uses a portable hive to capture the swarm
Witnesses said the bees swarmed in Greenwich for more than an hour

The swarm later subsided after beekeeper Phil Clarkson and his wife Tracey used a mobile hive to collect many of the insects.

Mr Clarkson, who placed the mobile hive on top of his car, said the swarm possibly came from Greenwich Park.

He said: “Nobody was stung here today.

“People did get a bit nervous, and they were quite concerned understandably.

“But then when we talked to people and explained to them that actually a swarm is very benign, the likelihood of getting stung is very, very rare, and in most cases it’s only when people swat them or squash them on their body that the bee will sting them.

“They’re very calm and very docile when they’re swarming.”

Asked about how common a swarm of this kind is, Mr Clarkson said: “At this time of the year it’s quite common, but it is rare to get them to land on such things as traffic lights.”

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