A SWARM of bees in May is worth a lot of hay they say – and there were plenty in Southend yesterday.

Southend street ranger Rebecca Venn, 34, received a call from police at about 2.30pm that a large amount of bees had been seen swarming on a bike chained up outside HSBC bank by Victoria Shopping Centre.

Sure enough, the stripey insects had gathered in a heartshaped swarm on the red bike and were attracting no small attention, though it seemed the unfortunate owner of the vehicle was still in for a shock and had not been identified.

Peter Walker, 60, is a former beekeeper and said he happened to be on his way to Nationwide when he passed the swarm.

He said: “They’re reproducing – what tends to happen is the queen will leave the colony with about half the bees in the prime swarm, which I’m guessing this is, and the chances are they’re looking for somewhere to go.

“What the enterprising beekeeper will do is come with a box and smoke them in – once the queen goes, the rest will follow.

“They say there are very few wild colonies left because they can’t cope with farmers’ pesticides and the varroasis mite, and these have most likely come from the museum.”

It is only just over a year since part of Victoria Avenue was closed because of two swarms leaving Southend Museum to take residence in a bush.

They were later gathered up and taken to Leigh by Ann Cushion of the Southend division of Essex Beekeepers.