A crime first: Pleasanton woman's vehicle bee-jacked
By Sophia Kazmi
Contra Costa Times
PLEASANTON -- Mark Sherrill has dealt with his share of bee calls. But when a customer phoned in two weeks ago to report that several thousand of the insects had "bee-jacked" her vehicle, the Livermore Clark Pest Control supervisor was taken aback.
"We've never heard of a situation like that," he said.
The driver had been running errands in downtown Pleasanton when she returned to find bees buzzing around her car. She decided to wait them out, and they seemed to have disappeared when she returned about 2:30 p.m.
The driver hopped in her car, picked up her kids from school, and went about her errands.
As she was dropping off one of her sons, he spotted the bees and tried to tell her, but the driver, who doesn't want to be identified, said she thought he had seen some outside the car and didn't think anything of it.
It wasn't until her other child in the car sounded the "bee" alarm about 4 p.m. that she pulled over at Stoneridge Drive and Hopyard Road. She found the insects tucked into a tight bunch in the hatchback of her car.
The quick-thinking mom spotted a flower shop and went there for help. She then called Clark Pest Control.
The driver said she didn't really panic. "I was more in the mode of 'OK, what do I do with this?' " she said.
She pulled out her phone and took a photo of the situation to send the pest control company because it was hard to describe where the bees were clumped. They had sneaked inside and curled up in the hatchback hinge area.
Sherrill told the driver they didn't have a product to treat the inside of a car. Even if they did, Sherrill said he wanted to try to save the bees because of the insects' role in California's agriculture.
"We really want to do the best we can to protect and harvest bees," said Sherrill, who called a beekeeper, who used a special vacuum to suck them up unharmed before taking them away.
According to information on bee biology from the UC Davis website, bees swarm to expand their population. About half the bees leave their former home and seek a new nest. This phenomenon mostly happens during the spring.
A few worker bees scout for a new home while the rest cluster at a temporary place until a suitable location is found. The bees are not defensive unless provoked because they are not protecting young, which they would be in a hive.
Katie Watkins, operation manager for Performance Pest Management in Pleasanton, said her company has dealt with ground hives and bees found in attics and on roofs. She said they had a recent case in San Leandro where a nest was found underneath a kitchen sink. They have also had a few cases of bees found in cars in the past three to four years, but the numbers were in the hundreds -- nothing like the thousands found in the woman's Porsche.
Contact Sophia Kazmi at 925-847-2122.