The Queen Bee
Yesterday I had a lesson in apiology, the study of bees. My education began last night with a knock on my front door at 7:30. A gentleman from the neighborhood, Tom, informed me that there was a swarm of bees in our backyard. We have had hives in the past, but a swarm was something entirely new.
I followed Tom out to the backyard to catch my first glimpse of the swarm.
I wondered how I had not seen the bees before. Tom actually witnessed the swarm form the previous afternoon when he was on a walk. I was relieved. They had not been there for a month!
Now, they are on a tree branch.
My neighbor called Jen, a beekeeper to remove the bees safely.
She estimated that there were 10,000 bees. She explained a swarm occurs when the Queen bee leaves the hive taking most of the worker bees with her. It takes a day or two for worker bees to find a new spot to nest and create a new hive. When bees are resting on a branch, they are usually not aggressive.
Jen keeps a few hives at her house to pollinate flowers and make honey. Last year her bees produced 150 pounds of honey.
Her mission was to get the bees off the branch and into the box. The box had honey in it to attract them.
Jen had to shake the branch to get things going. The object: get the Queen bee into the box and the rest will eventually follow.
Very nerve wracking work! She is covered in bees.
Since 1/5 of the bees were still on the branch, Jen left the box overnight. It can take several hours for all of the bees to trickle into the box. About 20% of the time, all of the bees leave and swarm elsewhere.
The bees seem to like that branch, though, because they were still there in the morning. Plan B, remove the branch and place it in the box.
Hopefully, Jen will bring me some honey!
Update: the bees are gone. Jen cut the branch. She did not bring any honey. Bummer.