The Library of Congress has been all abuzz this summer.
Maintenance workers recently discovered an estimated 75,000 to 80,000 bees making honey in a window between two walls of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building, at First and East Capitol streets NE.
Visitors have not been allowed to view their hive, but some employes who have seen it say it is 2 feet wide, 3 feet high and "the same color as Miller beer," according to one witness.
It reportedly contains about 125 pounds of wax and honey.
Gerald Garvey, a library support officer, said the bees are "in a location that if unnecessarily disturbed could cause risk to the staff of the library."
According to a library maintenance foreman, a summer youth employe first noticed the swarm of bees about two weeks ago in the courtyard of the main library building. He followed the swarm until he saw them fly into a crack in one of the walls. Pursuing them, the youth "went down into a duct" and found the honeybees along with their cache, the foreman said.
Sally Love, director of the Smithsonian Institution's Insect Zoo, said "They can all sting if they feel like they're being threatened." After they sting, they die.
Several steps could be taken to remove the bees from the area, Love said.
She said an expert wearing protective clothing could smoke out the bees and apply carbon dioxide, which would "knock them out." After the bees have been removed the combs would have to be taken out to prevent the bees from returning.
Another possible method, Garvey said, would be to vacuum the bees out. Love said that would mean taking the hive apart and removing the bees by suction, "but it's pretty hard on the bees."
Garvey said his office is seeking someone with experience in the removal of bee colonies and has determined that "ownership of the bees . . . goes to the person who removes [them]."
Officials anticipate the bees will be gone by the end of this month, as soon as a contract for their removal has been agreed upon.
Meanwhile, library employees seemed to accep the presence of the bees with equanimity.