Mars Hill Coffeehouse in downtown Hollister temporarily closed on Thursday because of what management thought was a swarm of bees that turned out to be more of a scouting party, according to Valerie Filice.
Filice described herself as a hobbyist who has been tending bees for about seven years. She said she got into the hobby because she has severe allergies and a neighbor, who also has bees, suggested she do the same in order to have locally-produced honey.
She said the Mars Hill staff called her when bees were discovered in the florescent lights. Filice said they knew to call her because she is on the local "bee swarm list."
"I've gotten four or five calls already and this is just the beginning of swarm season," she said. "It's getting warm and the queens are getting old and sometimes the bees kick them out and they take some of the hive with them to make a new hive."
The dead bees in the lighting fixtures were most likely scouts that found their way into the building but couldn't get out, Filice said, so they weren't able to go back to the hive to bring back even more bees.
"If we get 10 calls maybe 60 percent of the time we can do something," she said. "But if they're too high up in a tree or inside a wall there's not much I can do. I only grab the swarm I can see. I'll only go up 20 or 30 feet to get them."
Darla Hernandez, manager of Mars Hill, said she was arranging to get the dead bees removed and expected to be open by 4 p.m.