Sept. 30, 2002 – When employees at the Water and Power Authority business off in Cruz Bay found out what the buzz was Monday morning, they closed up shop and called it a day.
It was bees, WAPA spokeswoman Patricia Blake Simmonds said later in the day.
When the workers arrived, they turned on the air conditioner — which was as much of a shock to the bees, who had taken up residence there over the weekend, as it was to the employees.
Simmonds said an exterminator was called and the problem was expected to be solved overnight. "Bees are active during the day," she said. "They're easier to handle at night."
On Monday, the office staff set up shop near the standpipe behind the Cruz Bay firehouse to take checks from customers wanting to pay their bills. But not a lot of people knew that. "Oh, that's why they were closed!" St. John Administrator Julien Harley said with a laugh when he heard about the bees.
When migrating bees take up new living quarters in houses and other buildings, local residents usually call St. John beekeeper Haynes Smalls to lure them away, rather than getting an exterminator to kill them. Smalls' friend Melville Samuel, a onetime at-large senator, said on Monday that he was surprised to hear about the WAPA infestation, since just the other day the two of them had been talking about how rare such things had become.
"Since the hurricane [Marilyn], it hasn't happened much," Samuel said, but the bees seem to be making a comeback now.
The St. John WAPA office is on the upper floor of the commercial two-story building across the street from Nazareth Lutheran Church. Those in the know say bees tend to form their hives in higher reaches.
Samuel said when a beehive becomes too crowded, a portion of the hive population will sometimes break away and seek a new home, perhaps in the holes of trees or the cracks of buildings. An air-conditioning vent could be a handy alternative. "They'd like that; that's ideal," he said, as long as the unit was turned off.
Simmonds said the office was expected to reopen for business as usual on Tuesday morning.
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