Spectators were bee-witched on Saturday afternoon as they watched a well-known beekeeper remove a swarm of bees from a traffic light in the Flatiron District.
East 20th Street and Broadway was all the buzz at around 2 p.m. on July 1, according to Fire Department sources. The department says first responders were kept buzzy as they used a truck’s ladder to hoist a beekeeper to the traffic light, where the apiarist tackled the hive.
Andrew Coté, the man behind the netted mask, has captured swarms for the FDNY, as well as the New York City Police Department, the Department of Health and even the Secret Service — making him the bees knees in the bee-keeping business.
“Bees swarm as a means of propagating their species. Usually, one beehive somewhere in the vicinity of the swarm becomes overcrowded and the queen bee leaves and takes many thousands of bees with her as her entourage as they seek a new home,” Coté told amNewYork Metro. “As part of their journey they make a temporary stop somewhere — a tree branch, a bush, or in this case, a traffic signal, as their scouts seek out a more fitting permanent new home.”
Coté carefully and delicately worked to relocate the bees to a new home. According to the beekeeper, he safely transferred the traffic light colony to the Museum of Modern Art, where he recently installed a work of art that encompasses live bees. The piece, at home within the West 53rd Street museum, is on view through Aug. 15.
“We are able to safely capture the swarm and safely move them to an appropriate home,” Coté said, adding that their presence will help beef up the new MoMA colony.
After making a bee-line for the traffic light, Coté was able to fully remove the transit-loving hive by about 3 p.m.
Additional reporting by Adrian Childress