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2010-08-19 08:38
Washington - A swarm of bees held a US policeman hostage in his car for three hours after tens of thousands of the stingers escaped from a broken-down lorry, his colleagues said Wednesday.

The incident occurred on Tuesday morning near the town of Raleigh in North Carolina when policeman Brandon Jenkins responded to calls about a vehicle stopped on the side of the road, police told AFP.

The truck, as it turned out, was transporting 60 beehives to fertilise some orchards.

Such journeys are routinely done at night so the bees stay in the hives, but on this occasion, due to the breakdown, the insects flew out when they sensed light and the warmth of the day outside.

"They were confused, without their queen, they swarmed the police car probably because that was the biggest thing around that they could find," explained Wake County sheriff's spokeswoman Phyllis Stevens.

Between 30 000 and 50 000 bees were removed from the white exterior of the police car, which had largely disappeared under the swarm, she said.

Jenkins, who did not venture outside, called his superiors and was told to remain where he was and not make the situation worse by dispersing the bees.

"We had to be very cautious," said Stevens. "Schools are closed and there are many children around."

Jennifer Keller, a beekeeping expert from North Carolina State University was called in to help.

"I had never seen anything quite like that," she said. "The bees had nowhere to go. I guess they used the car as a resting spot."

Keller sprayed sugar water on the bees, which started licking each other and regrouping so rescuers could return them to their hives.

Freed from the swarm, Jenkins then continued on his way.

"I got one sting. I struck a bee, so it was my own fault," said Keller.


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