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Old May 3, 2009, 9:23 PM   #1
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Hi All,

The Director of the local Nature Center called yesterday to tell me about some of the bird sightings of the day -- more on that in another post. . .

When I got there, she also told me that their honey bees (they have some commercial hives that they collect honey from) had swarmed, and that they had landed on a nearby tree. She offered to show me where, and I was glad she did, because that gave me a chance to learn more about this phenomenon.

Apparently this is how bee colonies propogate. The Queen leaves the hive, taking a large number of workers. They fly in a group, until they find a suitable place to land. Then they just pile up on each other forming a big living glob. A new Queen is nutured (or is already in place) at the old hive. The new colony either finds or builds a new hive.

Speaking of bees -- they also have an area of ground near the NC where a bunch of Digger Bees have emerged and are buzzing around -- still trying to figure out how to get some shots. . .

Scott

This swarm was about 40 feet up in a tree near the commercial hives. It's about two feet wide and three and a half feet long. There must be thousands of workers.
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Old May 3, 2009, 10:05 PM   #2
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Nature never stops being amazing, thanks for sharing.
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Old May 3, 2009, 10:31 PM   #3
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Wow, I've heard of that phenomenon, but I've never seen it. Truly amazing!
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Old May 3, 2009, 11:25 PM   #4
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I've seen it also and took some pictures but with the F717 as I recall. It was incredible to see - in my case, we all arrived at work on a Monday morning, only to find the Jacaranda outside our office to have what appeared to be a hive. I didn't believe that the bulge was all bees until a beekeeper came out and vacuumed up the whole swarm. He was happy to have another hive and we were happy to have the bees leave.
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Old May 5, 2009, 10:23 AM   #5
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Wow! That is amazing. I knew they did that, but didn't realize it got so big.

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Old May 5, 2009, 11:11 AM   #6
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That is amazing!

I hit a swarm of bees with my car once on the freeway and my entire windshield was coated so I couldn't see out. I had to stop and use my ice scraper (had it in the car since winter) to scrape the mess off enough so my washers could clean the glass to continue driving.

Tom
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Old May 5, 2009, 4:23 PM   #7
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You need a few of the Asian Giant Hornet that I had haunt my house yesterday. It was about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long and scary as hell. A group of 30 of these can destroy a hive of 30,000 honey bees in 3 hours. They are nasty. One site, a guy described being stung by one being like being stuck with a hot nail. The stinger on the sucker is 1/4" long. I have a picture I'll post up later of the dead monster. I think that swarm of bees is almost safer than that hornet.
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Old May 5, 2009, 6:32 PM   #8
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Hi All,

Thanks to all who've taken the time to comment!

An update --

Went back to the NC today -- hoping to get some better pics of the swarm. . . and they had moved. . .

. . .about a hundred feet north to a smaller tree. The swarm was smaller. I learned from another Naturalist that many of the workers were out looking for a new hive site, then if one was found, the finder had to convince others to check out the site, and a collective decision would be made to move the swarm. Sounds like democracy in action to me -- from the bottom up -- the Queen apparently has no voice in the decision. . .

After getting some shots of the new swarm, I had moved over to a position by the feeders to get some Goldfinch shots, and after about an hour, I heard a growing buzzing. I looked over at the tree where the swarm was, and it was gone! The bees were all above me in a loose group, flying north again. After about a minute, they were all gone. Unfortunately I had teles on the two bodies that I had with me, so I couldn't get any meaningful shots of the moving swarm, but it was pretty intimidating -- even knowing that the bees aren't usually aggressive during this time. I am glad I was able to see it though. . .:-)

Scott

Here's a shot of the new swarm after their first move, and before the last -- it looked like a little man with a hooded cape -- upside down.:lol:
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Old May 6, 2009, 7:04 AM   #9
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That's really cool about the bee swarm I probably would have freaked out if I was anywhere near that many bees. As promised, here is the picture I took of the wasp monstrosity that invaded my home. It's not actually an Asian Giant Hornet, but of the same family, a european variety I guess. Still just as big and nasty.

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Old May 7, 2009, 7:39 PM   #10
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Hi Mike,

That's a monster!!!

I'd already read that honey bees aren't USUALLY agressive while swarming, so I wasn't worried. . . much. . .

If it was a bunch of those hornets -- I'd still be running. . .

Scott

BTW, I waited until they got the pic attachment glitch worked out before posting this reply. . .
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