Bees cause concern near Mercy High School

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | A large swarm of bees has made its hive in a tree right near Bishop McGann-Mercy High School.

If you’re taking a stroll down Middle Road in Riverhead, you may notice a buzzing noise growing increasingly loud as you pass the Saddle Lakes at Riverhead condominiums and come upon a large tree.

There are about 1,000 bees buzzing about near a gaping hole in the tree’s trunk.

Charissa Yannicelli of Aquebogue first noticed the swarm last week when she was stopped at a red light near the tree on her way to do some shopping along County Road 58. She’d noticed the huge hole in the tree before, but couldn’t see it that day.

“There were so many bees covering the hole, I couldn’t tell where the hole was,” she said. “My concern is if someone is taking a walk they could get stung.”

She added she’s worried for the safety of students attending Bishop McGann-Mercy High School, which has an entrance just across from the bees.

Ms. Yannicelli contacted the Riverhead Town Police Department, but was told the department doesn’t have the skills to remove a bee hive.

Lieutenant Robert Peeker said none of the department’s officers are trained in beekeeping, and that when there was an infestation a few years back, police called in a beekeeper.

The bees on Middle Road.

“We don’t have handcuffs that small so it’s kind of hard for us,” he joked.

He said he wouldn’t go so far as calling the swarm an infestation, but said “it’s probably better if it’s not there.”

“The middle of the woods is one thing, but the side of the road is another,” he said. “But we’re not calling it a dangerous situation.”

Riverhead Town Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson didn’t return phone calls seeking comment, though a town highway worker was sent to write a report on the hive Thursday.

Joe Macari, the owner of Macari Vineyards, which has locations in Mattituck and Cutchogue, said he keeps bees on his vineyard’s property and isn’t alarmed by the swarms.

“It’s actually a very good thing we have bees out in the wild,” he said.

But he guessed all of the bees won’t stay put for very long.

“Bees in a swarm will likely leave and find another place,” he said.

[email protected]