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What's the buzz in Brandon?

A deep drone permeated the quiet streets of Brandon as an ominous cloud of bees descended upon the town.

The eerie sound and scene could have been straight out of a horror movie, said witnesses.

This mysterious swarm, which invaded Central Avenue for a few hours last Wednesday, left many people wondering, what's abuzz in Brandon?

According to Lewis Struthers, a local beekeeper with 60 years of experience, this phenomenon is the natural way that honeybees reproduce.

"This is simply how nature programmed the bees," said Struthers. "They swarm in order to find a new location to live. This is the prime time of year for this to happen."

During June and July, strong hives will sometimes produce swarms. When this occurs, the queen and about half of the bees will leave their native hive in search of a new home.

"There is a lot of honey coming in right now," noted Struthers. "However, bees won't swarm after July, because there is not enough time to set up stores and produce honey before winter."

As the swarm goes on its quest, sometimes traveling as many as three miles, it will stop to rest periodically. Usually this occurs on a bush or tree. However, in Brandon's case the resting spot was the street of Central Avenue.

One witness, Randy Buker, watched as the thousands of bees gradually left the sky and clustered around one particular area, probably the location of the queen. Throughout all of this, he noted that the bees were not violent.

"My car was across the street, through the swarm, but I couldn't let the opportunity for pictures pass me by," said Buker. "There were so many bees that they were actually bumping into me as I walked, but showed no aggression."

Through the whole ordeal, Buker only heard of one person getting stung. This is a common trait of bee swarms.

"Swarming bees aren't aggressive because they have no hive to protect," said Struthers. "They generally are minding their own business."

The sheer number of bees that appeared out of nowhere last week is an indication that they came from a beekeeper's hive. Wild swarms are far less common than they used to be, because parasite mites in the wild have severely decreased the population of honeybees. Small or unhealthy hives do not produce swarms.

Although the bees caused little damage, the potential health hazards associated with their large numbers prompted someone to call an exterminator to Brandon. In a matter of minutes, the colony of bees was no more. Peace and quiet on Central Avenue was restored, for now.