Bee-careful! Swarm of bees shuts down playground at Chapel Hill park

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A swarm of bees have set up shop at a Chapel Hill park, forcing parents with kids to play elsewhere.

Temporary fencing surrounded the playground on Monday along with several signs promising the play area at North Forest Hills Park would open soon.

"Bees aren't aggressive," said Chris Richmond, a member of the Orange County Beekeepers Association. "If you accidentally step on one and you don't kill it, it may wonder why you're attacking it and respond in kind."

Richmond is also part of the Orange County Swarm Patrol, a team of beekeepers who responds to calls for help from residents who've encountered swarms.

A swarm is a group of bees who leave their original home and travel to another location. During the spring, they can establish hives outside of houses, on tree limbs near homes.

"Right now everything is in bloom and they're working 80 hours a week," explained Richmond. "So if we can give them space to do what they need to do, the flowers will be more abundant, the gardens more prolific and we'll be better off."

The Swarm Patrol removes the bees and takes them to a bee yard for safekeeping.

A decline in the bee population in recent years has sparked an interest in local beekeeping. The Orange County Beekeepers Association offers workshops on how to raise bees and collect honey.

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