Friday, June 11, 2010

The Queen Bee

I came home early from work today and discovered a swarm of bees in the tree in my neighbors front yard. I mean a swarm of bees. I could hear them before I saw them.  I wasn't really sure what to do about it, but I luckily someone in the neighborhood did.

A few people were right in the thick of it, looking at the bees and very excited about this. I asked what was going on. The woman explained a queen bee had landed there and was being protected by a new group of bees (hence the swarming). She said they needed to get the queen to a hive, someplace safe, before the bees moved on. She said they could possibly get into under the eaves of one of the houses and motioned to mine and my neighbors (not something I'm really keen on). There were a lot of bees and I'm not really a fan of large swarms of bees so I left them to be excited and went inside.

About 10 minutes later I heard a couple of cars pull up and a few people get out. A guy, whom I later discovered was named Brian, had a cardboard box and he and the lady, Margaret, got right in the thick of it trying to get the queen in the box. That seemed to make them swarm more, but Brian, Margaret and the others gathered to watch didn't seem to mind. I watched from a distance.

I swear there are lots of bees there but you can't see them. I didn't want to get to close. They looked quite busy. They got the box under the huddle of bees. Margaret said it looked like football hanging from a branch as the bees were huddled on each other covering the queen.

A few hours later, the crew was back at the tree. The box I had noticed was sitting under the tree with a note on it. I went back outside to see what the status was. Most of the bees were now in the box which Margaret said was thick with bees. I took her word on that one. She said they were waiting for more scouts to come back, then Brian would take the box back to his place and one of the empty hives he had. I wasn't sure how he was going to get them back to his place. I wouldn't want to be in the small hatchback he pulled up in, but that's just me.

See, lots of bees. Brian's trying to get the bees in the box.

I learned a few things today:
  • First, next time I see a swarm of bees I should call Puget Sound Beekeepers Assocation and someone will come and take care of the swarm. Since honey bees are dying off, it's important to keep the queens safe and make sure they have good homes.
  • Second, I'm not a big fan of swarms of bees, honey or otherwise (but I kind of thought that to begin with.)
  • Third, I met a few neighbors over this ordeal. Margaret and her hubby Mike have chickens and they invited me over to meet "their girls" anytime I want! And I plan on it!


Holli said...

There is a beehive on the 3rd floor balcony of the Museum, DIRECTLY below my office -- just three weeks ago our bees swarmed and then flew away -- since a new queen had been born in the hive. It was interesting and completely amazing to watch from behind the safety of my office windows. Glad your swarm has been settled.

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

Whoa! That is quite the ordeal! That Brian guy is a brave and determined man.

Happy to hear you met some cool neighbors because of it!

Sara K. said...

What an interesting post. We do a whole bee unit in my class. We pollinate our plants with freeze-dried bees glued on to the end of a tooth pick. It is genuinely amazing to see the kids learn how pollination works be experiencing it for themselves. I love your bee story and I am impressed at how it brought the neighborhood together!!!