Monday, March 08, 2010

Back to Nature

I’m finally finished with my docent studies and will be working as a docent at Tohono Chul Park. So now I have time to return to nature blogging. Let me start with my bees. A swarm (which I found is actually called a cluster) of bees landed in our palo verde tree nearly three weeks ago. swarm in tree 2-17-2010 4-16-56 PM 3108x2712 Based on reading, we assumed the bees would find a new place to live and move on soon. But they didn’t count on the weird, cold, rainy weather we’ve been having for a few weeks. After a couple of days of freezing rain, the once-robust swarm was reduced by about half:
full swarm cu2-17-2010 4-17-25 PM 3616x2712 2-17-2010 4-17-25 PM 1878x2622  half swarm 2-23-2010 9-53-09 AM 3616x2712
The second is a closer shot, but shows about the bottom half of the original swarm. What happens is the bees on the outside freeze and fall off…
Anyway, against all odds the remaining bees managed to pull themselves together almost two weeks to the day from when they arrived. That morning they were very agitated, with a lot of bees flying in and out of the cluster. By midafternoon they were gone.
lonely scouts 3-3-2010 4-45-30 PM 1517x2089
…. except for a tiny handful of scouts that didn’t get the message. A few of them are still buzzing around, looking confused, wondering where everyone went. Without the rest of the colony they are doomed.


  1. I'm glad they finally found somewhere to go. I bet they were mad! A new swarm won't sting--they're full of honey and hope. But let them hang out in the rain for days or weeks, and they get grouchy.

    Did you know that bees in a swarm cluster literally caucus in order to decide where to make their new home?

    Scouts come back to the cluster, mount tiny soapboxes, and use liturgical dances to express the wonders of the spot they've discovered. Just like the Iowa caucuses--a bigger crowd gathers around the best candidate, and once that group reaches critical mass, the whole swarm goes.

    Ha! I seem to end up talking politics, at least obliquely, whenever I talk bees.

  2. You should build a tiny memorial: Tomb of the Unknown Scout. For Queen and Honey!

  3. Maybe someone will come back for them. I have hope they are more like Marines.