bee swarm

vonyonMay 26, 2006

I thought I'd post these pictures here. This was a swarm in our neighborhood. I don't know where they came from as the farmer, who used to have bees, doesn't have them anymore.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

How COOL! It looks like a bee cone. A bee flower.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 2:46PM
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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

Did you take the pictures? I think I read that they need a hive when they do that. Beekeepers will come and take them.

I never saw that, only read about it. Thanks : )

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 7:52PM
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No, I didn't. My sister-in-law did. I thought I remembered the same thing. I told my sister-in-law to let the farmer know as I assume he neeeds the beekeeper anyway for his crops. I'm not sure why all the hives have been removed.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 10:45PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

It could "bee" that his hives were like a lot of others and got hit hard by the mite that was killing off honey bees so much in the last ten years.
I understand the basics of gathering a swarm...get the queen and you are in business. But I always wondered what they do to make sure she finds a ready-made hive to her liking. Maybe she has to be kept there for a few days to get settled in or something. Bees are simply fascinating creatures. Such an incredibly complex social structure!
When we have to take our chemical applicator's test every three years in order to be qualified to use restricted-use pesticides, there is a little section all by itself dedicated to the importance of not harming honeybees. Usually there are question-answer sessions during the testing and there is a good chance that some thick-headed individual will raise their hand and complain about the need to do anything special to save a bunch of bugs that are just a nuisance anyway. I think there ought to be a way to fence of that guy's acreage to all possible pollinators and see if he eventually gets the point.

Honeybees are also a good example of how not all exotic species do harm to their new environment. I sure never knew they were not not native until about 8 years ago.

I suddenly have this hankerin' for a big buttery biscuit and a glob of warm, fresh honey....
I will probably wake up chewing on the pillowcase...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 12:23AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

LOL Dirtgirl!
My husband came home last night with a big loaf of Challah, which goes perfectly with butter and honey. Want to come over??
Thanks for the pics Vonyon. I think if a hive gets too large, some of them take off for a new place. I guess that means there must be another queen too. I've never seen them swarm, but I've heard it's very impressive (and scary!)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 10:44AM
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I have a swarm of bees in my tree - they came at about 5pm and took about 2 hours to finally all settle in. I have never seen this before and had NO idea that bees do this in the middle of the city until I ran to the computer and looked up "bee swarm" - that's when I found out this was a natural procedure for them.

Took me a few hours - and many phone calls but I located a Beekeeper who is coming to get them tomorrow. He sounded rather thrilled about this...I am not so thrilled. I spent the evening closing up the gabs in my house eves and figuring out arrangements for my dogs over the next 24 hours while he captures the bees (takes overnight appearantly).

The clump on the tree is about 1 1/2 times a football - which I think is huge..the beekeeper stated that was rather small (hate to see a big one!)

This is SO not how I planned my weekend.

I know bees do great work...but this has freaked me out.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 12:19AM
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Well - the swarm has left my tree! The beekeeper was running late...planned to be here at 2pm but hadn't shown up yet. At 3pm the bees were still there...10 minutes later they were gone and I missed the whole departure - have no idea where they went or even the direction they took. They left as quickly as they arrived.

I for one...happy they are gone!


    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 3:36PM
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Missti, Well, I'm glad they left peacefully. We sure need pollinators.

DG: I heard about the mite infestation. A friend of mine used to be a backyard beekeeper and lost all of his hives. I'm not sure about the farmer next door. If honeybees are not native, what are the native pollinators? Maybe the native plants were pollinated by butterflies and the wind? Hard to say since many of our food crops aren't native.

Yes, not all alien species do harm, but we never know until they get here and acclimate. Speaking of alien species, did you see the monitor lizards from Africa that they are trapping in Florida now? Wow.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 10:15PM
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jny(z5 NY)

Hello there all. Had a swarm yesterday. Panicked because we used to live in AZ where there are some "Africanized" bees - and the kids were tryng to go outside. Anyway, found a beekeeper, (actually two) who came and got most of them. They told me the stragglers would go on their merry way in a day or so. Well, the stragglers amount to a large grapefruit right now, and are much more active than when they first arrive. According to the web searches, it is normal for them to be "full of honey and happy" when they first get there, and start getting grumpy when their tummys are empty over the next day or so. Great.

My big question is: does anyone know if these guys will truly move on now that their queen is gone? (The bee keeper/s sprayed vanilla water to cover the scent of the queen.)

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 10:23PM
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limhyl(z8 NC)

I am a beekeeper in NC and the swarming process is as follows: The bees get crowded in their home, be it a hive or tree or attic, whatever, and need to find more space.The queen leaves with half of the hive population and this is called the swarm. They usually land within 50 feet of the original hive initially. The swarm sends out scouts to look for a new home and usually between an hour to 48 hours the they will leave to occupy the new home. The bees gorge themselves on honey before they leave and are generally very docile during a swarm contrary to how it may appear. Back at the original hive the bees have began creating a new queen by making a large cell in the hive for her to grow in and feeding her large amounts of what's called 'royal jelly'. Any three day old egg can be made into a queen this way but it must recieve this special treatment. Otherwise the egg will develop into a female worker bee or possibly a male drone. The crowded hive usually creates ten or more 'queen cells' in order to be sure that they have a viable queen hatch out. The first one to hatch successfully will generally be the one chosen by the hive but a few more new (virgin) queens may hatch out and leave with a handfull of bees and these are called afterswarms. They are generally much smaller than the original swarm. If the virgin queen finds some of the new queens in the hive before they can escape she may kill them and actually even kill them in the cells before they hatch. The virgin queen must then go on a mating flight in order to be capable of laying fertilized eggs. This usually occurs within 7 days of her hatching out. She only mates with drones and the drones die during the mating process. Once she has mated with between 10 and 20 drones she returns to the hive to stay. She usually will not leave again and will lay up to 1500 eggs every day for the rest of her life. If you encounter a swarm, know that they are not aggresive if left alone. They will not attack people or animals at this point as their main goal is to find a new home. A lot of beekeepers are thrilled to come and get them as buying bees is getting very expensive. Just look online for a local beekeeping organization and they should be able to give you the names of some local folks that can help. The key to capturing and keeping a swarm is to make sure that they get the queen and keep her in whatever container they are using to house the bees. If the queen is caught all of the other bees will follow her like little soldier into the hive. Once the swarm is removed the bees that were out of the hive during the capture will congregate where the old swarm was because of the pheremones that are left there. The will dissipate in one or two days and meld with another hive nearby.

As to the question of what pollinated our crops before honey bees? Apis mellifera or honey bees were brought to this country in the 1600's and all of the crops that the natives where growing at that time where either wind pollinated or pollinated by one of the more than 200 species of native bees. Flies and other insects are also capbable of pollination. Even today, the native bees are better polinators of most crops. The problem is that they can not be attracted in the huge numbers that a hive of honey bees plopped right in the middle of a feild of cucumbers can. So the bottome line is this: Provide good forage for native bees as well as honey bees and you'll have a bumber crop of whatever you are growing. Theresa.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 6:49AM
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