Angry Inwood residents blame beekeeping "hipsters" for an aggressive swarm of meat bees reportedly prowling Isham Park — meat bees some locals believe have been lured there by honey bee hives.

"I’m not anti-hipster but this is incredibly dangerous," Matt Corcoran, whose son Tai suffered 10 yellow jacket stings while playing in the park on September 30th, told the NY Post. "The colony shouldn’t be so close to kids."

"It was terrifying,” said Corcoran of the attack. “He [Tai] started screaming and I looked over and suddenly there were 30 bees all around him." Tai was taken to the emergency room, and while he's okay now, other parkgoers who spoke with the Post attested to belligerent bee behavior. One woman said her son has been stung "several times" since two bee boxes moved into the park's Bruce's Garden earlier this year. Another woman said she'd been swarmed by "10 to 20 bees" in the past few weeks.

The alleged "hipster" beekeepers in question are Natalia Okolita and Andrii Hrabynskyi, both of whom are USDA-approved to keep hives, and who have their Bruce's Garden bee boxes registered with the city, in keeping with the New York City Health Code, and the state. The couple maintains that their honey bees aren't the problem, but rather, the wild hives nearby.

"We are there every Saturday or Sunday, going through the hives and checking for Queens to make sure swarming doesn’t happen," Okolita told the Post, adding that even if the outside bees are "unrelated" to her docile hives, she does "feel very sorry for that kid."

And indeed, the problem would seem to be yellow jackets, a predatory kind of wasp that preys on honeybee hives — especially heading into autumn, when their summer food supply dries up. In spring, yellow jacket Queens start laying a bunch of larvae, to be tended by her daughters. The daughters scavenge dead insects and dead animals, digesting their meaty haul into a protein paste for the young.

When the final round of wasps — fertile Queens and Kings — fly away from the nest in late summer, the workers turn attention to their own needs, which is when you may start to notice these hangry meat bees buzzing around your picnic...or an adjacent honey bee hive. As ex-NYPD cop Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis explained to the Post, "Yellow jackets decapitate honey bees at the thorax, chew them up, and feed them to their young."

Unlike other bees, yellow jackets both bite and sting, but because they don't lose their stingers, they can just mercilessly barb their victims over and over again. They are also defensive, and tend to swarm those who threaten the nest. These bees are ready to fight you.

The Parks Department had not responded to our request for comment at time of publication, but according to the Post, officials have received two bee-related complaints in the area since August, and removed one nest on August 12th. Corcoran, meanwhile, said he doused one of the yellow jacket nests in bleach. "They were incredibly aggressive,” he explained. “I wanted them gone."

Of course, some residents are now upset that bleach has been thrown onto a tree. On Facebook, one person called the bleach-dumping "irresponsible and toxic."

Update: The Parks Department says it hasn't received any complaints related to Tai's stinging, and has received only one other complaint since then — a subsequent inspection of the area did not turn up any angry bees, but Parks confirmed that they'd removed a nest on August 12th. The bee boxes in question were reportedly built in spring 2019. The Parks Department does have jurisdiction over the park itself, but leaves hive maintenance to the professional beekeepers. In a statement to Gothamist, Parks Department spokesperson Crystal Howard said: 

We inspected the site in question this past week and did not find a hive in or around the tree in question. We will broaden the inspection area this week and address accordingly. Additionally, we will have an independent beekeeper inspect the bee boxes. We use a risk management approach to bees and other insects. We address according to type of insect, location of the hive/nest and potential for injury to the public, we might relocate the hive, exterminate the insect, or take no action.