A LANE of Victoria Avenue was closed after two sets of bees swarmed out of Southend Museum.

The swarms broke away from an overcrowded observation hive at the museum and were spotted in a bush nearby and in the central reservation near the Victoria Gateway junction before a bee expert was called in to carefully rehome the bees in Leigh.

Ann Cushion, from the Southend division of Essex Beekeepers, stepped up to gather the swarms into nucleus boxes containing old beeswax on Thursday after using the centuries-old procedure of burning grass in a bee-smoker to lull them into a state of docility.

Southend Standard:

Ann with her smoker on Victoria Avenue

Roger Payne, the council’s Curator of Natural History, said: “We have an indoor observation hive on the first floor of the museum which has glass sides - bees can come and go from the outside but people are able to watch their behaviour.

“This hive was getting very crowded. Normally in spring when there are large numbers of bees in such a small place, the colony splits and forms one or more swarms, each one with a new queen bee at its centre.”

Although swarms of honey bees can look menacing, they are considered less dangerous than those in hives, as they gorge on honey prior to leaving the nest which makes them more docile.

Miss Cushion said: “I left the boxes open till dusk so that any remaining bees could return. Later I took them back to my garden in Leigh. They needed to be at least three miles away so that they wouldn’t go back to their previous foraging area.

“I will feed them with sugar syrup to encourage them to start building strong honeycombs, and will check them to ensure they have no diseases. They are too small to go into a hive yet, so may stay in the boxes for the rest of this year.”

Miss Cushion and some of her bees will be taking part in the Discover Wildlife event at Prittlewell Priory, Priory Park on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, the 4th and 5th May from 11am until 4pm.

Southend Standard:

Bees alerting others the queen is in the nucleus box