Thousands of Bees ‘Attacks’ Topshop In London

  • Bees landed on discount sign on window of Topshop in London’s Victoria
  • Comes as student in Southsea found his Nissan Micra covered in bees too
  • Experts say it’s common for bees to set up new hives this time of year

This is the moment a 5,000-strong swarm of honeybees caused a buzz by nesting on a shop front in the middle of central London – and surrounded a passerby. The bees honed in on a discount sign on the window of Topshop in Victoria Street, turning the fashion store display into a carpet of insects.

woman is surrounded
A woman is surrounded by 5,000 bees which caused a buzz by nesting

One woman was caught up in the swarm and was photographed desperately battling to avoid being stung as she walked along the street. Meanwhile, in Southsea student George Heal, 21, was shocked to find his Nissan Micra, parked outside his home, covered in a swarm of 20,000 bees. Experts said it’s common for honeybees to swarm around and set up new hives at this time of year. The marine biology student said: ‘One of my housemates pointed my car out to me and it was just surrounded by bees.It’s not something you see every day. I believe they are all gone now but I will definitely be checking the car before I get in it.’ The unusual nesting places for the bees are picked by the Queen bee, who lands there first and are quickly followed by her devoted colony. 

swarm of 5,000-strong
swarm of 5,000-strong honeybees that have been attracted to a discount sign on the window

Scores of Londoners stopped to take photographs of the unusual sight outside Topshop, in the heart of busy central London. Tony Mann, a project manager at nearby John Lewis and a trained bee keeper, dashed over to the shop to help lead efforts to smoke the European honeybee colony out. Mr Mann, who donned a white bee keeping costume and netted hat for the tricky task, said: ‘We have either had a virgin Queen or an old Queen, she has left the nest and she has brought the warm and settled on the shop front.’ He said some of the bees were flying around the area ‘like scouts to try to find out where the next best place to go is’. The colony was later safely moved across the road to Westminster Cathedral, where it will be looked after by beekeepers on top of the Catholic church’s roof. 

Victoria Street
Scores of passersby stopped to photograph the bees as they landed on the Topshop sign in Victoria Street

It is not known where the bees originally came from, but a string of shops in the local area do have their own hives. David Beamont, operations manager at the Victoria Business Improvement District (BID), which manages the interests of businesses in the area, said trained keepers arrived quickly on the scene to deal with the situation. He said: ‘In Victoria there are over a dozen experienced beekeepers who have all been on an intense training course that focuses on the theory and practical training of urban beekeeping, successfully managing hives for nearly two years. ‘Local beekeepers were able to respond swiftly to manage the swarm, collect them in a mobile hive and move them to a suitable location. Our ambassadors were also on site to reassure members of the public that the bees were not distressed.’ 

car Terrifying moment
swarm of 2,000 bees covered George Heal’s Nissan Micra in Southsea

Ruth Duston, CEO of Victoria BID, said local businesses kept bees to boost the area’s biodiversity. She said: ‘With a falling national bee population, the bees in Victoria play a key role in showing that London is a healthy, liveable city.’Gill Maclean, from the British Beekeepers Association, said: ‘They are doing what honey bees do naturally and are not remotely interested in humans. ‘In fact before leaving their hive the bees fill up their stomachs with honey and are rather mellow; their sole intention is to find a new home to build-up a new colony. ‘As long as the swarm is not provoked it will not do any harm but it is important that the bees are collected by an experienced beekeeper. 

swarm of bees
swarm of bees which took up residence in a Nissan Micra were collected using a basket

If left to their own devices they may choose to set up home in the nearest convenient spot which could be a chimney or other inaccessible place.’She added that in central London people often keep bees on rooftops: ‘The urban scene is not necessarily a paradise for bees. ‘A very high percentage of the urban area is barren bricks and mortar, concrete and tarmac and many grassy open spaces offer little of interest to bees, so forage is limited and consequently the number of hives that can be sustained limited too,’ she said. ‘Another key factor when keeping bees in towns and cities is the siting of hives and their management to ensure that there is minimal nuisance to neigh bours and the general public. ‘Proper training in beekeeping skills is vital to be able to assess suitability of apiary sites and to be able to manage colonies to minimise swarming and the likelihood for stinging events involving the public. –dailymail