Monday 9 June 2014

Bees attack my car downtown and how I survived the experience

I guess there is a first for everything and today I had one of the strangest experiences of my life.

Downtown for a meeting, I was so excited to find an available parking meter at the corner of President Kennedy and McGill College. An hour later, as I approached the vehicle, I saw a "swarm" of people (and you will see what I mean by the word "swarm") taking photos with their phones.  There was a "swarm" of bees resting on the top of my trunk and all the way down across my license plate - onlookers guessed they numbered at least 5,000.

Take a look at the bees at the back of the car.
I backed away quickly and called 9-1-1. The operator did not seem to know how to respond. "I will send the Fire Department," she said.

A few minutes later four firefighters arrived on the scene, walked towards the car and declared: "This is not for us. You need an exterminator."

Seconds later two police cars appeared. The officers were required to keep all of the gawkers away with their cell phones. Someone from a nearby office building brought me the yellow pages and I began calling exterminators. "We cannot kill bees," the last one I contacted told me. "It is not allowed. You need a bee expert."

Why are bees important? Read this to article for some answers.

The Fire Department called for their supervisor. He made some calls and managed to track down some bee experts. "They will be here in about an hour," I was assured.

In the meantime, all of a sudden I started hearing people call my name: a neighbour whose legal practice is in a nearby building, a friend who works in the same building and a resident of my community who recognized me.

Experts remove the bees safely.
Just within an hour, an old car with its mirror strapped on with red electrical tape, arrived. Two men and a woman wearing no protective equipment got out of the car with a special box to put bees in. They were from an organization called Miel Montreal

 I was told that a Queen bee had decided to land on my car and bring her entire colony along. The bee patrol used towels and brushes to gently move all of the bees into the box and then some kind of smoke concoction to empty the last of them. Apparently the bees are worth a lot of money in the honey they will produce.  But one of  Miel Montreal's objective is to protect the bee population. They did not charge me a penny for the work they did. Miel Montreal operates as co-op with the city of Montreal and give a lot of workshops in the community and at schools on biodiversity.  I never knew they existed, nor it seems did  police, fire or 9-1-1 authorities. They have only been in operation formally since  the spring of 2013. It is time we give them some applause.

Here is a report on CBC TV.
Here is my interview with CJAD's Barry Morgan.
Here is footage of the bees on my car from CTV.
City Montreal coverage.


  1. AnonymousJune 10, 2014

    I saw this yesterday as I left my office building located at 2020 University...I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Glad to hear everything worked out for you (and the bees!)

  2. Didn't you once play for the Concordia Stingers?

  3. AnonymousJune 10, 2014

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that experience. It's awesome and awkward to be in such close contact with a lot of animals and insects, as we city dwellers don't know how to deal with it. I'll remember Miel Montreal.

  4. What a fascinating story and experience. I am so glad you shared it. I have never heard of such a wonder of nature happening downtown Montreal.