apiary creatures

A lounge of lizards on a Langstroth

The things I learn while writing this blog! In case you didn’t know—and I didn’t—the word “lounge” is a collective noun for a group of lizards. This is akin to a school of fish, a flock of sheep, or a pod of whales.

That’s just one of the things I learned after Helen, a reader in Louisiana, wrote to say that a number of lizards were sitting on her hives and she was concerned they might have an appetite for bees. She also wrote that, “The lizards are the green ones that can turn brown and pump blood in the skin under their mouth to attract a mate. They don’t get very big—perhaps 5 inches, nose to tip of tail. I live in Louisiana about 45 miles north of New Orleans.” Hmm. She had me on this one. I had no idea.

I went to the Nature Blog Network (a reliable source of people who know all sorts of esoteric things) to find someone who knew about lizards and what they eat. I ended up e-mailing David Steen who is a professor at Auburn University, a specialist in reptiles, and author of the blog Living Alongside Wildlife. This is what he said:

The lizards your reader is describing are Green Anoles, Anolis carolinensis. The species eats invertebrates, but most prey items are smaller than honeybees. I think it’s possible that an anole could occasionally eat a bee, but I don’t see this as much of a concern for the hive/population. I imagine the lizards find the hives nice places where they can bask in the sun. I hope your reader is comfortable letting the lizards persist in the area.

Good news. And now that I was armed with a species name, I did a little reading on my own. I learned that the green anole is native to North America and is most commonly found in the southeastern United States and some of the Caribbean islands. It is generally 5-8 inches long (13-20 cm), is arboreal (found living in and around trees—and apparently beehives), and can be very territorial. According to Wikipedia, the lizards eat small moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts.

But the plot thickens! Quite by accident I next clicked on a site called Reptile Expert. The author of an article on the anole lizards mentioned they are partial to wax moths. Wax moths! How cool is that? Maybe those lizards are hanging around the hives waiting for a wax moth to happen by. Maybe we all need a lounge of lizards staking out our hives and feasting on the bad guys. What a concept.

Look closely at the photos below and you can see these cute little reptiles. In the first photo you can see two tails hanging down from beneath the telescoping cover. And although some look like leaves, I count eight lizards in the second photo. How many do you see?

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Note the tails hanging from beneath the lid. Photo by H. Cocran.

I count eight lizards in this pic. Photo by H. Cocran.

Green anole lizard. Wikimedia Commons photo by Ira Eskins.

15 Comments

  • A lounge of lizards!! So that’s where that expression came from!!
    I have little lizards around my hive, so I will encourage them. I never thought of them as being good or evil. Just there. 🙂

    • Hello,

      I have seen alligator lizards under my new hive. I am a new beekeeper and I don’t know if they eat bees. The bee company dropped off a nucleus last week and he will be back in 2 weeks to move them to a hive. The lizard is pretty big, compared to the ones in your photo. I shooshed it away but it came back within a couple of minutes and lounged very close to the hive. I’d appreciate any advice.

      Thank you,
      Fiona

      • Fiona,

        I don’t know anything about alligator lizards specifically, but most lizards eat insects. My guess is they will eat some, but probably not enough to worry about. Ask around your local area to see what other beekeepers say about them.

  • We have far more Anolis equestris now in Florida; an invasive species from Cuba – the Knight Anole. They are constantly on my hives, so I can only assume that they too like the wax moths……I hope…

    • I had cedar beetles on my hive during cicada’s mating season. Cedar beetles eat cicada larvae. But, as I said, they were on my hive and I saw bees flying around them, but never saw one try to get in the hive. Does anything eat wax moths up north here in Indiana?

  • I have 1 of these lizards hanging out on my bee hive. There are no wax moths around. The lizard is eating my bees and I am going to shoot the lizard with a 22 with rat shot in it.

  • Hi, interesting. I was out at my hives today and noticed a northwestern alligator lizard hanging out…not sure but I don’t like to bother lizards as I just love them but was a little concerned if the are chowing on my bees…

  • We have these lizards in SE North Carolina. Now, I have really loved lizards and we have a lot in our coastal area which keep down the insects around the house. I was very happy to have planted native plants this year, attracting native bees. To my horror last week, I was watering the plants and admiring my native bees buzzing around when a lizard flew from a neighboring plant and gobbled up a native bee! I guess these lizards are immune from a sting or can possibly eat half of them, dropping the lower torso, so I have read. 🙁

  • Oh dear people

    I am afraid to say that here in Southern Africa our agamas love bees, to eat that is. We are obliged to build -izard proof and ant-proof stands for our bee hives and we keep African bees so they are cheeky. If it will fit in his mouth the lizard will eat it.

  • I live in Hawaii and I have many geckos and anole that live on my top bar hives. I wish they would eat small hive beetles! I have seen the anole be stung, thrash about for a second, and stand it’s ground. They don’t enter the hives thankfully. I hate geckos jumping on my legs and heading north during an inspection more than a sting!

  • I have several around my hive too. I have seen them chase after hive beetles and eating them. I have even seen one catch a flying beetle trying to get into the hive. The Anoles can stay and lounge as long as they want!

  • Anoles do eat honeybees. Just saw one stalking bees on our hummingbird feeder. He just nabbed one and is currently chewing it up. Nature is amazing!

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