Bees are Swarming!
Bees are fascinating creatures that play a crucial role in our ecosystem. During the summer months, you may have noticed an increase in bee activity, including swarming.
But why do bees swarm?
Swarming is a natural process in the life cycle of honey bees. It occurs when a colony becomes overcrowded and needs to expand. The old queen bee, along with a large group of worker bees, leaves the hive in search of a new home.
How do bees find a new home?
When a swarm of bees leaves the hive, they don’t have a predetermined destination in mind. Instead, they send out scout bees to search for potential new homes. These scout bees explore the surrounding area, looking for suitable locations such as tree hollows, crevices, or even man-made structures like attics or chimneys.
Once a scout bee finds a suitable location, it returns to the swarm and performs a unique dance known as the “waggle dance.” This dance communicates the location and quality of the potential new home to the other bees. The more scout bees that agree on a particular location, the higher the chances of the swarm choosing that site as their new home.
What happens to the old queen bee?
When a swarm leaves the hive, the old queen bee is among them. However, the swarm needs a new queen to ensure its survival. Before leaving, the colony prepares several potential queen bees by feeding them a special diet called royal jelly. These potential queens fight among themselves until only one remains.
Once the swarm has found a suitable new home, the remaining potential queen bees emerge from their cells. They take part in a “virgin queen competition,” where they fight to the death until only one queen bee is left. This surviving queen bee becomes the new leader of the swarm and takes on the responsibility of laying eggs to establish a new colony.
Why are bees foraging during this time?
While the swarm is searching for a new home, the worker bees are also busy foraging for food. Bees need to collect nectar and pollen to sustain themselves and the developing colony. During the summer, there is an abundance of flowers and blooming plants, providing ample resources for the bees to gather.
Foraging is a critical task for bees as they collect nectar to make honey, which serves as their primary food source. Additionally, bees collect pollen, which they use to feed the brood and ensure the colony’s growth and survival.
The swarming phenomenon is a delicate balance between growth and survival. It allows bees to expand their colonies and ensure the continuation of their species. As summer unfolds, the air will continue to be filled with the enchanting sight of bees in search of new homes.
In the world of bees, summer is a time of swarming, new beginnings, and the relentless pursuit of survival. As we marvel at the elegance and exclusivity of these tiny creatures, let us remember the vital role they play in our ecosystem.
Need help removing a swarm, give us a call: BeeHappy Beekeeping – Raine Solomon +27 61 471 0434