A quiet street in Burnley became “like a scene from a horror film’’ according to neighbours after a swarm of bees nested in the chimney of a house.
Residents had to swat hundreds of bees after they nested in the home of 92-year-old Mrs Evelyn Austin in the Brunshaw area.
Mrs Austin said: “It was very distressing indeed to see all these bees flying around my home. It made me feel very frightened. I was in my back garden hanging out washing when neighbours were knocking on the front door to let me know they were all over the front room and on the window sills.’’
Neighbours Miss Adele Murgatroyd and Mrs Tracey Thompson raised the alarm after spotting the bees inside Mrs Austin’s home as they walked past.
Miss Murgatroyd said: “They were literally all over the house, I could not see in front of my face.
“It was really frightening and we were scared to death of getting stung by them and I was just swatting them and killing them.’’
Adele rang Burnley Borough Council and Calico for help and even made an appeal on facebook and Selina’s Childcare, based in Brunshaw Avenue, donated £70 towards calling out a pest control firm.
Adele, who lives with her 15-year-old son Liam, added: “I rang Burnley Council and also Calico but seemed to get nowhere. So we rang a private company and waited all Friday afternoon for them to come but they never turned up despite promising they would after I kept ringing them.’’
Mrs Austin was forced to spend a couple of nights sleeping on a chair in her kitchen as she was too scared to go into the lounge as the bees were coming into the house through the fireplace.
She said: “She was too scared to go in any other room apart from the kitchen and she didn’t want to leave her house so she slept on a hard chair.’’
Adele called out a second firm, Accrington based Premier Environmental pest control on Monday morning and a smoke bomb was placed in the chimney to get rid of the bees.
Adele said: “We don’t know yet if this has worked as there are still a lot of bees around. But at least Evelyn can go back into her house properly now.’’
Helen Thompson, Calico’s director of customer services, said: “We would like to apologise to Mrs Austin for any distress caused during our initial handling of her call, which unfortunately fell short of the standard of service she should have received.
“We have now been out to the property to safely remove Mrs Austin’s gas fire so the bees can be removed securely. This will be reinstalled at a later date once the problem is resolved and we will continue to offer Mrs Austin our support.
“We understand that there may still be further work required to completely remove the bees and, given the circumstances, we will ensure that this is done.”
A spokesman for Burnley Counci said: “We deal with a wide range of pest control problems, but not bees’ nests. However, people can talk to our pest control officers and they’ll give advice on how to deal with such problems.”
Bees: The facts.
* Honey bees tend to build hives in dry, sheltered places, like wall cavities and chimneys although statistics say you are more likely to win the lottery than have bees take up residence in your home.
* One third of the Western diet relies on pollination to grow and 80% of this pollination is undertaken by the honey bee so they are a vital part of putting food on our tables.
* Whole colonies of honey bees are dying all over the world. This has disastrous consequences for our biodiversity and agriculture. Without honey bees 80% of the plants will disappear. Without specific plant species, butterflies will be extinct and our fruits and vegetables will diminish. A disaster for nature but also for humans.
* A main reason for this problem is chemicals used in intensive agriculture and in particular neonicotinoids and phenylpyrazoles.
* The Soil Association has been working to protect bees for several years because they are not legaslly protected. A Keep Britain Buzzing campaign aims to highlight the threats bees face and encourages people to take action to protect bees. The Soil Association want to see all neonicotinoids banned, and promote better farming to help ensure the health and future of bees.