Victoria Ivie/ Courier Firefighters work to dissapate a swarm of bees in the eaves of the Howard Johnson Hotel across from Pasadena City College on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. The swarm caused Colorado Blvd. to be shut down for at least two hours during rush hour.
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A swarm of bees across the street from Pasadena City College closed down Colorado Boulevard for at least two hours on Thursday, which caused a traffic jam for students leaving school and left 5 hospitalized.

The swarm was located in the eaves of the Howard Johnson Hotel on Sierra Bonita and Colorado, according to Alex Boekelheide, the special assistant to the superintendent/president of PCC.

The swarm of bees was first brought to PCC campus police attention by the Pasadena Fire Department.

“When firefighters arrived on scene they reported a swarm of bees a block long,” Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian told the Courier.

Firefighters had a Pasadena local beekeeper expert that assisted in mediating the aggressive hive with Co2 and water. As the sun set, a lot of the bees also dispersed and did not return to the hive. During this process, seven people were injured with five being so severely injured they needed to be hospitalized. 

According to Derderian, the beekeeper gave the fire department an estimate of 30,000 to 40,000 Africanized bees in this swarm, all highly aggressive.

One firefighter was stung over 17 times.

“I’ve worked for the fire department for 18 years and we’ve had bee incidences but never to this magnitude,” Derderian said. “We’ve never had this significant of bee stings either. There were firefighters, police and a civilian who were stung. We are fortunate our beekeeper was able to respond quickly and even more damage was prevented.”

While most of the bees were either killed or dissolved from the nest, there is a possibility that bees can still be in the walls of the hotel. Given this possibility, it is up to the Howard Johnson Hotel if they want to hire someone to rip up the walls to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

PCC students and faculty were first alerted to the situation via the school’s Rave Alert system. This system is an emergency alert system, made to send out real time text message and email updates.

“Attention- stay away from the intersection of Sierra Bonita and Colorado,” the PCC Rave Alert said at 4:12 p.m. “You may be stung by a swarm of bees.”

PCC campus police and Pasadena city police were on site to assist in road blockage, direct traffic and close off the North and East sidewalks to Colorado Blvd. 

Rave Alert later informed the campus at 6:36 p.m. that campus areas are open once again.

PCC students can sign up for Rave Alerts here.

Victoria Ivie

Victoria Ivie is the Editor-in-Chief at the Courier. She is majoring in photojournalism and hopes to work as a photojournalist in a major publication where she is able to travel for work. Her photography work can be found in the Courier as well as on instagram at vi.photos.

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