Beekeeper denies claims he lured bees to Texas House candidate's tent at polling site in Pearland

Rosie Nguyen Image
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Candidate claims rival's supporter let bees loose on his campaign tent
A Texas House hopeful is levying claims that his rival's supporter let a bee swarm loose near a Pearland polling place.

PEARLAND, Texas (KTRK) -- A candidate running for a seat in the Texas House is accusing one of his opponent's supporters of intentionally luring a swarm of bees to their campaign tent outside an early voting location. The beekeeper in question said he's being blamed for something he didn't do.

Jeff Barry is running for Texas House District 29 against Alex Kamkar in a runoff election. Both are former council members for the City of Pearland. This is his fourth election, and he told ABC13 he's never experienced something quite like this.

Barry claims that early Monday morning, he and his campaign team noticed a large swarm of bees hovering around their tent outside the early voting location at the Tom Reid Library.

"Some of our poll workers are older. Some of them are allergic to bees. So it got to the point where we were a little bit concerned for the safety of the individuals in our tent," Barry said.

Barry's team said they called their own beekeeper, Dane Beito, with Gulf Coast Honeybee Farms, to remediate the situation. Beito told ABC13 that he estimates there were thousands of bees flying around aimlessly when he showed up and claims he was only able to capture 30 to 50 stragglers.

Barry believes the incident had something to do with Doug Holloway, a beekeeper with Wild Bloom Honey and a supporter of Kamkar. He claims Holloway had parked his truck with bee boxes near their campaign tent that morning. They said that a drove of bees began gathering after Holloway left.

Holloway denies parking near Barry's tent and says he showed up to vote early, right when the polls opened at 7 a.m.

Barry then pointed out two bee boxes that were left by Holloway under Kamkar's campaign signs on the sides of the library's driveway, which he believes may have played a factor in attracting the alleged swarm of bees.

"So with how this all unfolded, we feel like it was intentional," Barry said.

Holloway told ABC13 he came out to the polling location Sunday evening to lay out the empty bee boxes as a way to deter thieves from stealing Kamkar's campaign signs. It was something he posted to his YouTube page that night where he preemptively said, "I have no intention of doing anything. Just keeping things honest."

"Nobody asked me to do this. This is an old Texas trick. I put no one in danger. As a beekeeper, there were no bees in there," Holloway told ABC13. "If there was a swarm, someone else brought them."

When ABC13 approached Kamkar outside the Tom Reid Library, he declined to comment on camera. But he later sent a statement that said, "Our campaign was NOT present at the poll site, since polls were not open, nor were any paid campaign workers involved."

No one reported being stung, and Barry's team could not provide any photos or videos of the alleged bee swarms.

A spokesperson with the Pearland Police Department said they were unable to get involved because the incident happened at a polling location, which makes it a federal matter. Barry said he is contemplating whether to file a report with the FBI.

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