Off-duty firefighter removes 15,000 bees from car in grocery parking lot

A man who returned to his car in the parking lot of a New Mexico grocery store ended up needing help from firefighters when he found a swarm of 15,000 honey bees has taken up residence in the vehicle.

The Las Cruces Fire Department said the man told firefighters he had only been inside the Albertson’s store in Las Cruces for about 10 minutes when he came outside to find thousands of bees flying around inside the Buick he had borrowed from a friend.

The man called 911, and firefighters who arrived at the scene summoned Jesse Johnson, 37, an off-duty firefighter with years of beekeeping experience.

Johnson said it is common for bee colonies to split in the spring, with thousands of the insects and a queen going off in search of a new home. He said the vehicle’s open window likely seemed like an inviting location.

“Luckily, when bees are swarming, they’re pretty docile,” Johnson told The New York Times. “They don’t have a home to protect for a moment. It’s much more intimidating than it is dangerous.”

Johnson said it took about a half-hour to remove the bees from the vehicle and transplant them into an empty hive box. He said the bees will join the four hives he keeps at his home.

The fire department said one firefighter and a store security guard were stung by the bees, but no one was seriously injured.