June 26, 2003
Bee Attack

On Monday, the bees almost got me.

Some robot-programming colleagues and I were returning to work after taking a little stroll through old town Pasadena when we noticed a whole bunch of bees flying around the tree a few feet from the front door to the building.

The afternoon group stroll is an eagerly awaited part of my daily routine. Seeing bees is, at best, an opportunity to think “Wow, I am so much better with this debilitating bee phobia than I used to be.”

When we got closer, we saw that a swarm of bees had settled in the tree.

swarm of killer bees next to idealab
swarm of killer bees. photo by luis.

We fled to the relative safety of the indoors.

From: Xxxxx Xxxxxxxx <xxxx@idealab>
Subject: [allpas] Bees In The Vicinity


Please do not leave by the front doors today -- there is
a swarm of bees building a hive on the tree between our 2
exit doors on Union St. We have called the pest control
people but they will not arrive until 5pm so be very
cautious when you leave and avoid going near the front of
the building.

OK, so now our refuge had become a potential tomb. But whatever, I wasn't looking for any trouble.

qxxxxxjxx: Now on the news they're saying there's a swarm at a school.

It's one thing to sit tight and wait for the pros to handle a bunch of killer bees taking a little rest in the tree outside (I was willing to believe that killer bees get tired, too), but it had become clear this was a coordinated attack. It was time to take the initiative.

Which we did. Obviously I can't get into the details of the beyond-cutting-edge robot defensive software and matching only-occasionally-lethal offensive hardware we recklessly modified over the course of the next hour to create a vision of autonomous bee-reaping fury straight out of the darkest half-forgotten africanized honey bee mythologies. But I can say that the goal was not just to coldly and with ruthless machine efficiency 'terminate' the insects that dared mess with us, but to send a message. A message of species superiority, of pain, and especially dismemberment.

At 5 o'clock when the pest control guy arrived, there was nothing left for him to do but dispose of the crushed, gleaming carapaces littering the sidewalk.

Posted by jjwiseman at June 26, 2003 01:49 PM

Having lived in Africa for 90% of my life, I fail to see what all the fuss is about.

Then again, seeing how close to the swarm your friend must have stood to take that picture..... it's no wonder Americans are stung to death. Just stay the heck away.

Reminds me of the Japanese tourists who get out of their cars in the game parks in South Africa and stand next to a pride of lions to have their photo taken, and are promptly eaten.

Posted by: on June 27, 2003 01:57 AM

Actually I'm the only American who makes much of a fuss.

Posted by: John Wiseman on June 27, 2003 11:03 AM

This is the funniest thing I've read in a while. I wish I got paid to do lisp and robots! :-)

Posted by: Andrew Birkett on June 27, 2003 04:56 PM

If I saw those fuckers, I would make much of a fuss too. I am close enough to the 'dena to be shutting my porch doors. I will open them again when your bee-dismantling robots arrive. Plus nobody deserves to be eaten, period.

Posted by: Kitty on June 27, 2003 11:56 PM

Your worst nightmare realized and overcome all in one afternoon. Those bees are probably more than a little concerned about Afrikanized Pasadenians at this point.

Posted by: Chris Borresen on June 30, 2003 09:21 AM

Pest control guys? Why didn't you just send one of the robots (preferably in killer-bee-killer mode) to deal with them?

Posted by: Joey deVilla on June 30, 2003 09:35 AM

Joey, reading comprehension!

Posted by: John Wiseman on July 2, 2003 10:17 PM

do you have any hi rez photos of killer bees- particularly in swarms? I might need the rights to print it... it's just for a comp for a movie poster... low budget. Thanks. In a rush- 0ct.19

Posted by: kristi on October 18, 2004 09:53 PM

Oh my gosh, how big are those things?? That is so creepy, I would start crying.

Posted by: Anonymous on February 13, 2005 09:23 PM

Those bees weren't africanized honeybees! You are in the least danger of getting stung those bees than any others in Pasadena! First of all, Africanized honeybees are NOWHERE NEAR HERE. Additionally, bees swarm when when the colony outgrows its hive. Their sole objective is to get a new place to live. Since they have no hive of their own to defend, they are LESS LIKELY TO STING THAN ANY OTHER BEES, unless someone triggers their attack pheromones by squishing one of them! Your bees were probably Italian honeybees (domesticated for thousands of years) escaped from some beekeeper's hive. If you had waited for a beekeeper to come, he would have swept them into a box with a whisk broom and carried them off in the back of his truck.

Posted by: Jack on March 6, 2005 09:36 PM

Did this really happen??? If it did, awesome!!

Posted by: Kaori on May 27, 2005 07:45 AM

Holy Hell...if I saw that anywhere near me I'd probably end up running away screaming while trying not to soil myself. I'm deathly afraid of bees....Africanized or not.

Posted by: Hart on June 22, 2005 11:14 PM

a shiver ran down my spine!!!!!!!!!!!!!????

Posted by: knoxter on June 15, 2006 03:03 AM

If they were Africanised Honey Bees, You wouldn't have had time to take that picture. They would have attacked you way before you even saw the nest. They can sense disturbances 1/4 of a mile away from their nest. And will intiate an attack at the slightest discomfort. Dark clothes,traffic, Lawnmowers would be enouph for them to attack. Those bees in that tree are not Africanised.

Posted by: Tom on March 21, 2007 09:03 PM

they are bad

Posted by: on March 27, 2007 11:03 AM

Toms right !!!!! Those bees would have been adjitated by you guys taking the picture and would have attacked you way before yougot under that tree, Although Judging my the way the bees are together like that, Some of them might be Africansed.

Posted by: Trixter on April 6, 2007 03:59 PM

Hello I live in IL and I was just in the same situation,. I was sitting on the porch and a million bees flew all around my yard and now are resting on the house next door!! I don't know what to do!! from the picture up there I think there are more bees on the house!!

Posted by: erin on June 1, 2007 02:38 PM

killer bees or not they were still a threat it is not every day that you see a swarm of bees like that. i am allergic so i would have been running fast...what about your phobia?

Posted by: samanth on July 6, 2007 06:58 PM

You need to understand that once a hive is invaded by the Africanised honey bee, they kill off the European queen and the whole hive takes on the aggressive behavior of the Africanised bees. It's not just a small amount of the hive. It's the whole damned thing. If these bees were of African nature. There warning system would have been set off. This photagrapher would have been attacked and since this is in a city erea, The bees would be attacking everyone in the erea. These are not killer Bees.

Posted by: Tom on October 8, 2007 04:17 PM

fock what a swarm!!!

Posted by: mo on November 2, 2007 10:37 AM

I just reas something very interesting about Killer bees. Depending on how close you are to the nest. Guard bees will litterally fly into you without stinging you. This is their warning. If you are ever in that situation, and bees are bumping into you, this is their way of saying, Your to close to the nest and you need to back away or your screwed. Makes me angry though.. There was a swarm of European bees that rested on a branch at my employment. Odviously not Africanised, because I stood 4 ft away from the nest. One bee flew up to me and landed on my arm, circled around for a second and flew back to the swarm. Maybe he was warning me to back away also.

Posted by: Tom on January 9, 2008 09:58 PM
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