I was hoping no one would ask the unanswerable question, but it just arrived . . . from my daughter, of all people. She wrote, “Why do the bees hang on the outside of the swarm trap? I always envisioned them going inside.” Hmm.
When I discovered a swarm hanging from the bottom of trap #1, another swarm was occupying the inside. It seemed to me that both swarms had decided on that trap as a place to live, and both had arrived there at more or less the same time. I imagined that the first swarm took the inside and the second was forced to remain outside.
However, days later when I found a swarm on the outside of trap #2, no one else was living inside. It was completely empty. So now I’m confused.
Both swarm traps have pheromone lures mounted on the inside. The lures are attached near the entrance holes so the scent can escape from the hole and attract homeless bees. The lures are new but the traps are old. I don’t know how many seasons they’ve been hanging out there, but I’m guessing at least five. They’ve been wet and dry so many times that they became warped, and the two sections (the base and the cone) no longer fit tightly together.
My current theory is that more scent is leaking from the intersection of the two parts than is emitting from the entrance hole. The bees were clinging to that exact spot in both cases. On the other hand, I would think that when the bees were close to the trap it would be hard for them to tell which end the odor was coming from. Then again, I’m not a bee.
Another possibility is that the bees were using the trap as a temporary resting spot while they looked for a new home. In other words, they had no intention of staying there, only to use it as a staging area the way swarms do. The traps are not particularly far from the hives, so I suppose that is possible. But swarms usually settle very close to their original hive while they house hunt, and these were little far away for that. I’m just not sure.