Bee swarming season arrived at Foxboro Elementary School in Vacaville in a big way on Tuesday, when tens of thousands of the pollen-spreading stinging insects took over a tree at the school.
The mass of bees resembled a large lump of tan bark -- albeit moving tan bark -- according to students, who reacted to the nature event with healthy doses of child-like curiosity.
Bees swarm when hives split after a new queen is hatched, according to bee-keepers interviewed by the newspaper. This happens in the spring and lasts until May. The bees are "less-aggressive" in a swarm because there's no hive to defend, the newspaper reported.
In an interview with KTVU, the school's principal described her students' reactions. "The bees seemed to be very calm and didn't seem to be agitated or attacking or anything," Foxboro principal Lisa Eckhoff told the television station, which then asked if the bees scared the kids. "I don't think so," she said. "I think it was just a cool learning experience for them."
As many as 80,000 bees took control of the tree, according to a report published in -- perhaps appropriately -- The Sacramento Bee.
With wild bee populations much reduced, bees in California are rented to farmers, who need the bees to pollinate their crops. It's not certain where the school's bees came from -- or what species they are -- but a San Ramon beekeeper offered to take them off of the school's hands.