Yesterday a reader wrote, “You make it sound easy to catch a swarm of bees . . . Is it?” The answer depends on where it lands. When a European swarm first leaves a hive—whether it is an absconding swarm or a reproductive swarm—it usually lands somewhere nearby. It seems that the colony regroups while the […] Read more
When all of the bees—including the queen—leave the hive in search of a new home we say they are absconding. This is very different from swarming. Swarming is a reproductive process in which one colony splits and becomes two. From 40 to 70% of the original colony leaves with the old queen to start a […] Read more
A lacework of bees hanging together, leg-to-leg, between the frames of comb is called a “festoon” and the behavior is called “festooning.” The bees hang in sheets between the frames; sometimes the pattern is as wide and as deep as the frame itself. If you slowly separate two frames during the spring comb-building season, you […] Read more
The spectrum of visible light for honey bees is shifted toward the ultraviolet end. They see things that we can’t in the shorter ultraviolet wave lengths. On the other hand, bees don’t see red. A red flower appears to them as a black spot. Many flowers have patterns on their petals that reflect ultraviolet light. […] Read more
Once the brood comb is prepared, the queen lays one egg in each cell. Estimates vary widely as to how many eggs a queen can lay, but 1500-2000 per day is a reasonable assumption. Over the course of one spring and summer season, the queen probably reaches a maximum of about 200,000 eggs. When first […] Read more
In this picture you can see drone cells in the lower left, worker cells in the lower right, and both pollen and nectar everywhere else.
Nothing signals the approach of swarm season more reliably than the appearance of drones in the apiary. A colony won’t swarm if the new queen has no way to mate, but once drones are abundant, mating can occur and a populous colony may decide to split. Drone eggs are laid by the queen in special […] Read more