A 20,000-strong swarm of bees caused uproar when they chose to nest in a village post box.

The colony had to be removed after people reported being “afraid of posting letters” in St Day, Cornwall, on Friday.

Beekeeper Rodney Harris, 75, was stung slightly as he flushed them out on Saturday using sugary water, lemon grass and almond oil.

He said they had become “territorial” but had not yet laid wax or eggs.

More Cornwall stories

Mr Harris, who keeps 18 colonies in his garden, said: “If you don’t shift them quick it’s amazing how much work they can do.

“Humans aren’t in it – we are a bunch of thickheads compared to bees. They were starting to become territorial and anyone who goes in their flight path would get it.”

You may also like/be interested in:

Mr Harris, a retired miner and engineer, said he was stung when he used sugary water and lemon grass to entice the bees into a box and artificial almond oil to drive them out, before taking them home.

Geoff Nankivell, sub-postmaster at St Day, said it was a first for the village.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “No one was stung or hurt and there were no delays to our service… We closely monitor these situations which are extremely rare.”

Sting in the tale: Honey bees

  • In any hive there are three types of honey bee: a single queen; thousands of female worker bees; and, in the summer, hundreds of male drones
  • They have five eyes and store pollen on their back legs
  • The species is under threat due to habitat loss, use of pesticides, pests and diseases, extreme weather and climate change, and competition from invasive species

Source: The British Beekeepers Association