Flipflops and relentless sexual frustration be damned, the first surefire sign of spring is a hearty bee swarm. Reader and beekeeper Ross Bennett Brown says there's a sizable swarm in a tree on Baltic Street, just west of Hoyt in Boerum Hill. "It's a beautiful swarm, with a bunch of them displaying their 'waggle dance,' " Brown writes in an email. "I guess those are some of the scouts describing possible sites for their new home."

BeeSwarm from Gothamist on Vimeo.

Brown says he tried to call 311 to report the swarm to prevent anyone from harming the bees, but was told that 311 didn't handle such matters. A spokesman for the City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications said that the City does not accept complaints of bees or wasps in trees because the swarms are an important part of a wild hive's life cycle, and bees are a vital part of the ecosystem, and who are we to interfere with Nature?

(Courtesy Ross Bennett Brown)

But if you're having winged insect issues on private property, 311 will direct your complaint to the Department of Health. Curiously, the City doesn't accept bee or wasp complaints if they occur on public property, but there are several beekeepers associations who may be able to take the bees in. If you want to narc out the illicit beekeeper next door, of course the City will take complaints on illegal animals.

Brown says the bees aren't his. "I make sure I provide plenty of extra room in my hive in the spring so my girls don't swarm." The president and founder of the New York City Beekeepers Association, Andrew Coté, told the Times last year that insufficient ventilation and cramped quarters can cause hived bees to swarm. “If [beekeepers] treated their dog or cat in the same way, they would be taken up on charges."

To mitigate swarms, the Association recommends [PDF] (among other things) that beekeepers should consider "replacement or [sic] old or failing queens."

But be not afraid! Swarming bees are usually docile, and the swarms themselves are not dangerous (did you know the film My Girl was produced by a wealthy group of wasps?). However, our performance art piece Speedo Slurpee Spongebath will be rescheduled for another intersection.