Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wild Week of Joy and Sorrow - Part One

On Sunday I was in the garden pulling a few weeds. Ted was mowing. He crossed the back yard to put a tool away in the shed next to me. A few moments later he stepped out into the yard again and said, "Look at all the bugs in the yard!" Suddenly a cloud of hundreds - thousands- of flying insects formed a golden tornado in the center of the yard. They were flying too fast to make out what they were.

I stepped into the tornado. "They sound like - bees." I ran to grab my iPad and began searching for local beekeepers from the vantage point of the deck. 

A blackish mass gradually took shape in the wax myrtle, about 12 feet up. The tornado slowly dissipated. Only a remnant hovered around the swarm. I took a few photos with my phone. 
Beekeepers preparing to move the bee swarm.


After following a daisy chain of phone numbers, I got in touch with a beekeeper who would drop everything to bring his equipment and collect the honeybees. He and a helper gave us a crash course in bee biology while we waited for the all the bees to follow their queen into the bucket. 

The beekeeper said if we hadn't called there was a good chance the swarm would be sprayed and killed by someone when it moved away.

I made a slideshow of the photos and video I took:

video

Our swarm will replace a hive that died over the winter. It is estimated that over 40% of the honeybees in America died last year. A type of pesticide called neonicotinoids has been implicated as a main cause of colony collapse disorder. A third of our food is pollinated by bees -  treats like apples, almonds, strawberries.

Bee swarms are one of nature's great miracles - thousands of individual animals acting as a "super organism", as if they were different cells of of a single animal. What a joy it was to witness and to know we helped these amazing animals survive.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the sad event that happened today.
P.S. Toby is fine, it's not about him!

12 comments:

  1. Well I'm really glad you looked after the bees, they are suffering real bad at the moment and no one seems to know exactly why
    I hopes your bad news isn't very bad, I shall worries until I find out
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries, Toby and family are fine; it's a personal wildlife story :)

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  2. that is great that the bees were saved and given a new home,xx Speedy

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    1. Thanks Speedy :) Yes they will be safe and hopefully live to produce a new swarm next year.

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  3. well done - we have to try and save as many bees as we can - we haven't had any issues with a swarm but were concerned when we kept see a big old honey bee entering a hole in the wall - we blocked it off before she could invite anyone else to check it out

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    Replies
    1. Based on what the beekeeper told us, she may have been a scout bee. The swarm waits for the scouts to come back with news of good places to build the new hive. You were wise to block that hole when you did.

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  4. Every honey bee is important at this point. You guys are heroes in my book!

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    1. Thank you, but all we did was make the phone call :) The beekeepers are the heroes.

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  5. Oh were you lucky to find bee keepers lickety split!! What a great post. I know you enjoyed watching them.
    Lots of Hugs to you and Toby
    Hugs madi and mom

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    Replies
    1. So true it took a while to find someone available and willing to climb a ladder while getting the bees.

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  6. So glad that Toby is ok and that you were able to protect the bees

    retro rover

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