At least they weren’t murder hornets. After what should have been a routine grocery trip on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, a New Mexico man was shocked to return to his car and find some unexpected visitors waiting for him: thousands of bees in his back seat. 

Earlier this week, the man, whose name has not been released, left Albertson’s grocery store in Las Cruces and placed his groceries in his vehicle. He had left his windows open while food shopping, officials said

It wasn’t until he started to drive off that he noticed the thousands of bees taking the trip with him.

The Las Cruces Fire Department was soon on the scene, blocking off the surrounding area to protect nearby shoppers from the bees. Firefighter Jesse Johnson used his experience as a beekeeper, which he does in his spare time, to safely relocate the swarm. 

Johnson, who was off duty at the time, arrived at the scene with everything needed to move the bees — a hive kit, lemongrass oil, gloves and the proper attire. He soon relocated them to a “more suitable location,” officials said. 

Photos of the incident show Johnson, in full gear, surrounded by thousands of bees as he placed them in temporary hives. The fire department estimated that 15,000 bees were removed from the car and taken to Johnson’s property — an effort that took nearly two hours. 

No major injuries were reported, but an Albertson’s security guard was stung, “and it is possible a few patrons may have had close encounters,” the department said.  

Officials said that the fire department does not “regularly” remove swarms of bees, but made an exception in this case due to the potential hazard in a high-traffic area.