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Queens Bees! Thousands Swarm Block In Astoria

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD rounded up thousands of bees that flew from their hive atop a Queens home Wednesday.

A witness told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman the bees were "swarming all over the block" in Astoria.

"I guess one of the queen bees got out," said Brian Poor, one of the beekeeper's neighbors. "The whole nest followed."

Thousands Of Bees Swarm Block In Astoria, Queens

When police showed up and found thousands of bees swarming around 28th Street they shut the block down. The NYPD's on-call beekeeper came with a vacuum and sucked up the swarm into a cage.

"They got the cherry picker and started getting them off the tree and they had a police presence out here the whole time," neighbor Britt Lafield told CBS 2's Dave Carlin.

Poor said he's been fighting his neighbor over the bees for three years, but there's not much he can do -- the practice has been legal in New York since 2010.

"This should be a wake-up call to whatever regulations that the city are allowing," Poor said.

Neighbors watch as police respond to a swarm of bees in Astoria, Queens, on May 7, 2014. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Poor said the bees will buzz around his pool from time to time.

"My kids are scared to go in the backyard," he said. "I have two 4-year-old twins."

Police and neighbors said that the bees came from a series of rooftop hives installed by homeowner Mike Barrett, three years ago.

Barrett called the police response an overreaction and said that neighbors have nothing to worry about.

"It looks very dramatic because you see the bees in one place but this is the calmest time you'll ever see the bees," Barret said.

Poor was grateful his nephew, who is allergic to bees, wasn't outside Wednesday.

"God forbid he was to get stung by one, two, 10, 20," Poor said. "An epipen wouldn't have saved him."

Some neighbors said they were completely unaware that thousands of bees were living in the neighborhood.

"The city needs to do something about it," said a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.

Barrett said that he had taken precautions to prevent the bees from bothering people, but that sometimes they are attracted to water.

"I've been trying to work with the neighbors. Bees sometimes have a problem with water. They're attracted to water that's why I have this barrel out front," he explained.

Police said that Barrett is allowed to do this, he will not face any fines, and will go on beekeeping.

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