It's swarming season for bees in Texoma, and if you've got a hive in your area, don't call animal control. Only beekeepers have the necessary equipment to deal with the flying insects.
When you call 9-1-1, police make a call of their own to Bennie Watson, President of the Red River Valley Beekeepers Association. Watson has been trapping and caring for bees for more than 60 years.
Watson said, "I'll be 85 in July. I just stick to it and they still call me. If you see a hive, call 9-1-1 and give them the address and the location of the bees because they could be in a water meter or in a tree or anywhere that the queen likes".
It's experience he and the Beekeepers Association are putting to good use this swarming season. During this time, the bees are looking for a new place to live. Last month a swarm found its way to the hood of a car at Sullivan Toyota of Wichita Falls. Watson said the swarming season should last until at least the beginning of June.
While you may think you can take care of a small hive, Watson says a group that appears to be just the size of a softball can contain more than 20,000 bees.
"They are very compact and they're next to each other at all times, moving to create warmth".
When Watson removes a swarm, he'll often fill a hive and give it to a local beekeeper. But recently, one hive found a special home, inside a science classroom at Cunningham Elementary.
Science teacher Shelley Yeakley says the bees provide a unique learning opportunity. "How often can kids actually look at bees? They're usually running away from them".
Lauren Armstrong was in the classroom when the bees were brought in. She said, "Once he had them all in there we were trying to find the queen bee but we couldn't because they're still bunched up. It scared me for a minute but then I realized he wasn't wearing a mask or the suit so they weren't as bad".
The Red River Valley Beekeepers Association meets one a month at Midwestern State University. You can find more information on them by clicking here.