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August 23, 2012

Woman stops for lunch, gets unpleasant surprise

JOHNSTOWN — The parking lot at East Hills Plaza in Richland Township was abuzz on Thursday afternoon after a Northern Cambria woman returned from her lunch break at Main Moon Chinese Restaurant to find a one-foot-tall swarm of honeybees nesting in the cab of her pickup.

Crystal Smith said she and a co-worker spent only 15 minutes inside the buffet restaurant before employees warned her that she wouldn’t be driving back to work anytime soon. After Richland police were alerted, they called in beekeeper Greg Berkebile of Kring Street for a removal.

Berkebile surmised that a queen bee, recently ousted from her hive, decided to start a new home in Smith’s white pickup and floated through the open back window. Thousands of worker bees followed, attracted to the pheromones emitted by the queen. Wherever a queen bee decides to land, the workers pile on.

Berkebile arrived on the scene quickly by forgoing a run for his equipment. Working without his smoke gun, he lit one of Smith’s cigarettes inside the truck, using it to confuse the bees and shoo them outside. He explained Smith’s situation as a fairly common occurrence and focused on finding and moving the queen bee so that her subjects would follow.

“You don’t move the bees,” Berkebile said.

“The bees move the bees.”

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