By Kareem Johnson and Amy Zimmer
FLATIRON — The Flatiron District was hit with two bee swarms just half a block apart on Tuesday.
A giant group of honeybees gathered on the Perfume Warehouse awning early Tuesday morning at 22 W. 30th St., followed by a smaller swarm hours later just around the corner on a planter in front of the BeadKraft bead store on Broadway.
Andrew Cote, of the New York City Beekeepers Association, rescued the first swarm of roughly 15,000 bees, weighing 4 pounds, Tuesday. Cote said he got a call to his group's "swarm hotline" at 1:30 a.m.
He said it's likely that the second cloud of bees was an "after-swarm," or a group of bees from the same hive that followed in the wake of the first swarm.
When beekeepers don't tend their hives very well, it can lead to overcrowding, forcing the queen and her worker bees to flee en masse to new locations, Cote said. The after-swarm typically occurs because the fleeing bees leave behind several queens "to fight it out," Cote said.
Hives need regular inspections, especially in the spring when they need room for their growing ranks or else they'll split off, Cote said.
The NYPD suctioned up the second group of bees — an estimated 14,000 bees, weighing about 3 or 4 pounds — which buzzed in front of 1231 Broadway around 10:30 a.m Tuesday.
Cote brought the bees he scooped up to one of his hives in Norwalk, Conn. — where he said they are "recuperating" and will "have a chance at a new life."
He emphasized that swarms "are not at all dangerous, though they are perceived to be."
Painter Lorraine Shemesh, who has a live/work space with her musician husband at 22 West 30th St., had started noticing the bees "scouting" the location on Friday and thought they would soon disappear.
But by the Fourth of July, the couple returned from an afternoon at the beach to find thousands of bees at their building — one stinging her husband as he turned the building's doorknob. They called Cote's group.
"At first it was like a natural wonder," she said. "They are incredibly beautiful, but it is scary."
She added: "It started to look like a science fiction movie."