This blog post—the first on our new website—isn’t about candy. It’s about the hazards of bee transport (just in case you were thinking of hauling hives as a side job). The following is a true story that took place on June 13, 2015 involving the employees of another Reading terminal Market store only a few steps away from Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe: Smucker’s Grill. (They’ve got terrific hot breakfast and lunch sandwiches, plus all kinds of tantalizing beef jerky flavors. But we digress.)
That late spring day in 2015 began normally for the employees of Smucker’s Grill in Philly’s Reading Terminal Market, with no clue that things would get a lot more interesting by days’ end.
As the restaurant’s workers dutifully did final cleanup and got ready to head back to Lancaster County, owner Moses (Mose) Smucker, informed his crew that they would be taking a couple of bee hives home for his neighbor, Kathy. Can you already imagine little alarm bells buzzing?
Darren, over at the bee store (hereafter referred to as “Darren the bee guy”), put the hives in a box and loaded the box in the van. The ladies among the crew were—this is a vast understatement—not too sure about the plan. Sharing their space with strange and unpredictable bees didn’t seem like the best idea.
But Mose, as he’s prone to do, just chuckled, knowing everything was going to be fine and dandy. Apprehensions rose a smidge when the women saw a single bee not behiving (sorry) and staying in its place as promised by Mose. Still, it was just one bee.
Not willing to share her space with even a single honey-maker, one of the girls cried out, “There’s a bee flying around, I told you!” The boys, being boys, just laughed at the girls for being afraid of a single bee. “Pffffft!”
So down the road they went.
You can see where this is headed—it wasn’t long before there were six or seven bees loose. Rebecca Lynn, keeping a sharp eye out for more than a single bee, alerted the others by shrieking calmly, “They’re coming out of the box!!”
By this time the van was rounding the front of the Philly Art Museum, and the situation was rapidly deteriorating (for the people, not the bees). There were now 20 or more on the loose, having a grand old time causing a major panic.
At this point the ladies started insisting that, really, something had to be done.
So Mose stopped the van. He was confident that he had a simple way to solve the problem. He thought to himself, “I’ll just throw a blanket over the box. That should put them to sleep.”
Well maybe it should have, but it didn’t. Not appreciating confinement, the bees—consulting rapidly with each other—poured angrily out of the box by the hundreds.
“Open all the windows!” Mose yelled. Within several microseconds, the windows were open. The ladies and one of the boys jumped over the seats to get to the front of the van, far away from the bees in the back.
By now pandemonium had reached its peak. Everyone was screaming. The boy who’d scrambled to the front was on the floor with blankets over his head. The entire van and the back window were covered with bees, while still more bees were swarming out the windows.
Deciding that an hour an a half drive to Lancaster wasn’t a great idea anymore, Mose headed back to the market, stopping for red lights and enduring traffic jams all the way. People in cars stared wide-eyed; some took pictures.
After 20 minutes of terror that seemed like 20 years, they reached the market. When the van came to a stop the doors instantly flew open and the crew exited at light speed. Everyone ran as far away as they could, except for a couple of fearless ladies who shook out all the blankets that were completely covered in bees.
The boys stood far away watching everything. An astute young lady saw her opportunity and snuck up behind one lad, poked him in the back, and yelled, “BEE!!!” His eyes nearly left his head permanently as he flew back into the safety of the market.
By this time Darren the bee guy had gone home, so Mose, who’d long since stopped chuckling, called and told him that his hives were outside the market and that he would be leaving them there.
The pranked boy let out a huge sigh of relief. What Darren the bee guy said was never reported.