Police in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, have accused a woman of showing up to an eviction they were facilitating and fighting them using angry bees. According to Hampden County Sheriff deputies, 55-year-old Rorie Susan Woods put on a full beekeeper costume during the alleged incident.
Police say that Woods showed up at the scene of an eviction attended by their deputies. Upon arrival, she left her dog in the car and went to several commercial bee hives she had towed behind her vehicle. Police say an officer tried to stop her but had to retreat due to the angry bees. They claim Woods then smashed a lid of one of the hives, and flipped one hive over, further agitating the bees, before putting on a professional beekeeper's outfit and taking one hive to the front door in an attempt to stop the eviction.
“We are always prepared for protests when it comes to evictions, but a majority of the groups who protest understand that we are just doing our statutory duty in accordance with state law,” Sheriff Nick Cocchi said in a statement seen by Boston 25 News.
“And they appreciate how we go above and beyond to help the people being evicted with anything they need from food and temporary shelter, to longterm housing, employment, and mental health and substance use disorder treatment. But this woman, who traveled here, put lives in danger as several of the staff on scene are allergic to bees."
Woods has been charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, as well as disorderly conduct. According to a police report seen by NBC Boston, she was informed that several officers were allergic to bees, but carried on with the protest.
"We had one staff member go the hospital and luckily, he was alright or she would be facing manslaughter charges," Cocchi continued. "I support people’s right to protest peacefully but when you cross the line and put my staff and the public in danger, I promise you will be arrested.”
Weirdly, fighting evictions using bees has been done before. During the Land War that began in 1879 Ireland, where tenant farmers fought against exploitative landlords and eviction, violent tactics with improvised weapons such as boiling water and cow dung were used to keep the landlords and police at bay.
"What was calculated upon as one of the most formidable items in the program of defense and defiance was the letting loose of a hive of bees, but these took flight by the chimney," a paper reporting on the events said on June 6, 1887. "One of McNamara’s sons, who endeavored to keep them down, was very severely stung."