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Bees swarm Times Square hot dog stand

The mass of insects was so dense it weighed down sections of the stand's umbrella.

New York

THOUSANDS of bees swarmed part of Times Square on Tuesday afternoon, sending tourists and passers-by scrambling before the bees settled on the cart of a very unhappy hot dog vendor at 43rd Street and Broadway.

The mass of insects was so dense it weighed down sections of the stand's umbrella. The vendor, visibly agitated, had nothing to say about the visitation of apis mellifera.

The incident lasted all of an hour before the New York Police Department's own beekeeping team vacuumed up the hoard of honeybees and took them safely to a new location. In the bees' brief brush with fame, they attracted hundreds of onlookers and inspired some embarrassingly bad jokes by police officers.

"Bee good!" one officer called out to a reporter. It was the third bee swarm the officer said he had seen in the last year.

Walid Elfaramawy, 38, who has worked a food stand opposite of the stand the bees alighted for 10 years, said he had never seen anything like this in Times Square. The swarm started at a construction site at 43rd and Broadway, he said, and made its way to the umbrella.

The man of the hour was Officer Michael Lauriano, one of the Police Department's beekeepers, who sucked up the insects with a large vacuum cleaner as a bumbling crowd of tourists gathered, craning their necks to see.

The swarm on Tuesday briefly captivated Twitter in New York City, but such incidents are common enough that the Police Department keeps beekeepers on hand, who have their own verified Twitter page.

Andrew Coté, a Midtown beekeeper who was watching the scene, estimated the swarm had as many as 15,000-20,000 bees. "You have to count the legs and divide by six," he joked.

In most cases, Mr Coté said, the swarms originate from beehives that some New Yorkers keep on the rooftops of Midtown buildings. NYTIMES