The Buzz of Bees
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 18:02

Swarm in PinesHow appropriate that we were discussing onomatopoeia in class last night (that, and hyperboles and metaphors and haikus). Our bee hive in the catalpa in the backyard has been wildly active this year. It was a sleeping nest until January. Phew, what a winter. While I was feeling cheated by the cold season that was mostly absent, the honeybees were busy making plans and not letting the strangeness of the season impinge on their task at hand - to keep a hive thriving when nothing was in bloom.



Swarm in Pines 3On Monday, the hive swarmed. That doesn't just mean it was an enormous flying cloud of bees although it certainly was that. A swarm is when part of the hive breaks away and leaves to start a new hive. They take the old queen with them and venture off into the forest and field to start a new hive. The ones who stay make a new queen. Either way, the hive is split. This happens in nature frequently and when it happens to a beekeeper, I imagine it's very disappointing. That means you lose more than half your hive and lots of potential honey. In apiculture, maintaining the right conditions to keep bees around is probably something every beekeeper strives for; however, it goes against the natural order of things. By swarming, bees spread out the love. They provide other areas with pollination. They move about to find other food sources. They make additional hives to ensure the survival of the species. Sometimes people see a bee swarm and want to destroy it out of fear. The swarms aren't dangerous. I make a point of standing directly under it to get some good pictures and to be in the presence of these magnificent creatures. 

Swarm in Pines 2Today is Thursday and I found the swarm in a giant cluster hanging from the pines. I couldn't believe it. The chickens were singing to them since the pines are just a few feet away from the chicken run. It looked like a ball of bees. I took some pictures and went back to my business of potato planting. About an hour later, I heard the buzz of bees, I looked up and the hive had swarmed over the high tunnel - they were on their way to a new hive! And they had graciously stopped by to say goodbye. I could see the shadows of their little bodies through the high tunnel roof. They hung out for about a minute and were then on their way.


The remaining half of the hive is still in the catalpa tree, and I hope they stick around until fall. I allowed tha vounteer cilantro plant to go to flower with hopes of drawing pollinators to the tunnel. Soon, the squash will blossom and old friends will stop by for a snack. I can't wait!

Bees in Catalpa