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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Honey bees cause museum closure
Swarm of bees
It could take several weeks to remove the bees
A museum has had to close its doors after thousands of honey bees were found nesting in three 30ft chimneys.

The decision was taken to shut the Forge Hill Needle Museum in Redditch, Worcestershire, after three members of staff were stung.

Visitors also had to contend with bees dropping onto the exhibits.

It is expected to take several weeks to remove the unwelcome guests from the museum, which tells the story of the manufacture of needles over 300 years.

'Like a cartoon'

Scaffolding will be put up to enable workers to cover the building's vents with a special mesh to ensure the insects do not return.

Ken Watkins, Redditch Borough Council's sports and leisure services manager, said: "It has been almost like a cartoon this week, as we've regularly had these enormous swarms flying around outside for hours on end.

"It would be a shame to destroy them because we could probably do a good line in honey," he joked.

Mr Watkins said that honey bees were protected by law, although they may be destroyed where they are considered a threat.

Violent thunderstorm

He said in this instance the creatures would be taken by bee keepers.

Friday's closure caps an unfortunate two days for the museum.

A lightning bolt knocked out the telephone system during a violent thunderstorm on Thursday afternoon.

The museum is currently hosting the Charles Henry Foyle Needlework exhibition, showing entries by textile students from across the UK who are competing for a 2,000 cash prize.

It will continue to be on display once the attraction reopens and is due to run until 10 October.

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