Council was set to take action when member of public intervened

People in Southend have been expressing their anger after a swarm of bees that had made a parked bicycle their home were killed by someone armed with two cans of fly-killing spray.

The bees, believed to have come from a hive at Southend Museum had settled on the silver and red bike in the Essex town’s Victoria Circus last Monday, reports the Echo’s Paul Nizinskyj.

The newspaper reports that it is thought the local council’s environmental health department were taking steps to move the bees to a safe place when a woman with fly spray intervened.


Onlooker Ray Bronski described what happened. “This young girl, all dressed in black, turned up with two cans of fly spray and just sprayed the bees,” he said.

“They swarmed up in the air, before falling back down to the ground.

“She sprayed them a few more times and they were then just blown across the street, dead and dying, which was very sad.

“A few of us had been watching them in order to keep people away from them, but there were people saying they were going to set light to them.

“One guy tried to shake the bike and another spat on them. I just thought ‘who are these idiots?’

“We were hoping the council would do something because telephone calls were made, but no one showed up.”

A street ranger working for the local business improvement district had alerted the council to the presence of the bees on Monday after being told about them by police, but they were killed before the local authority managed to intervene.

It is not known whether the woman who killed them was the owner of the bicycle.

“We deplore this,” said a spokesman for Southend-on-Sea Council.

“While the council does not remove bees, a member of our environmental care team visited the swarm after calls from the public.

“We understand a local beekeeper did attend the site, so we think that the majority of the swarm was boxed and taken away and those killed were ones that escaped and returned.

“However we cannot confirm that.”

A local beekeeper warned that any bees that may have survived the attack may put other hives at risk.

Ann Cushion said: “The worst possible thing you can do is to start spraying chemicals about, because bees are notorious thieves and will often steal honey from other hives if they can.

“If any bees from the attack survived and tried it, it could bring that nasty chemical into the hive. I know of at least one case a few years ago when just that happened.”

Many people making comments to the article condemned the person who intervened, some pointing out that the bee population is in decline.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.