This photo was taken at about 6pm today. We found a whole cluster of bees on the tree directly outside our house. According to a neighbour, the insects were already seen flying around the tree about a half hour earlier.
We were alarmed enough to call the fire department. Turned out that this station was in Butterworth, not Bukit Mertajam. The chap on the other end of the line assured us: not to worry ... yet. Chances are that these honey bees are in transit from one place to another and they could be resting for the night. Residential areas are not their natural habitat and they should fly off soon, possibly in a day or two. So unless we shake the tree to disturb them, there should be little concern. Really, ah? Easy for him to say. He's not staying here right below the cluster. Never mind ... we can still call the nearest fire department again tomorrow.
Here's a close-up shot of the bees. The queen is possibly buried deep within the big mass. But can you imagine the number of bees here? Possibly a few thousands.
UPDATE (9am): I think it is definitely a concern now. The cluster has grown even larger from overnight. We decided that the bees have to be chased away and we'll be calling the fire department to deal with it in a short while.
UPDATE (2.30pm): As mysteriously as they had appeared yesterday afternoon, the bees were gone by 2pm today. Not a trace of them. According to my wife, the cluster was still on the tree at about 12pm or 1pm. She had to call the fire department to cancel their appointment. The fire department was right. These transient honey bees are in search of a new home. The environment here was too noisy for them and they prefer the quiet of the forests.
We were both sad and glad to see the end of the bees. Glad, because there'd be no harm to us and the neighbourhood; sad, because this is the end of a natural phenomenon. While it lasted, it was a wondrous sight. I doubt we'd ever see this again anytime soon.