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Bees swarm courthouse steps, close one entrance

A swarm of honeybees, which found its way to a bush outside the Unicoi County Courthouse, was brought under control by local beekeeper David Pauley in the late afternoon on Friday, June 10.
Pauley explained that the swarm was following an annual springtime ritual in which a hive will crown a new queen and drive the old queen out. He said the old queen will take loyal workers and drones with her.
According to Pauley, the swarm in front of the courthouse probably stopped there so that scouts could seek out nearby locations suitable for building a new hive.
The area was cordoned off with caution tape and signs that read “Beware Bees!” were posted to keep unsuspecting citizens away from the area near the steps leading up to the building on the Gay Street side.
Pauley, who has 14 beehives at his Erwin residence, showed up in full beekeeping attire and attempted to coax the insects into an artificial hive.
“This is how new colonies are started,” Pauley said. “I’m hoping I’ve got the queen here.”
Pauley said if he was able to capture the queen bee, it would mean a win for both him and for hesitant pedestrians entering and exiting the courthouse.
He said that without a queen, any remaining bees in the swarm would dissipate, going in their own directions. He said some may try to join other hives, but the vast majority would die off without leadership from a queen.
Meanwhile, as a harvester of honey, Pauley indicated having the queen would mean a welcome addition to his other hives. He said if he had not captured the queen, he could purchase one to put inside the new hive.
The swarm thinned out over the course of several hours Friday evening and was gone by Saturday.