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Swarming Bees


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#1 DrKrettin

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 03:30 AM

I have just read a local news item reporting on a swarm of bees. No big deal, but the reporter commented that it was a sticky problem, even when it was not known whether they were honey bees or not.

 

So my pedantry kicked in and I wondered whether there were species of bee which swarm but do not produce honey.

 

Any experts out there?

 

 



#2 OceanBreeze

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 04:13 AM

I'm not an expert. I am sure someone like Farming Guy can tell you more than I can.

I have had several swarms on my property and once on my boat, while it was docked.

 

As far as I know, only honey bees swarm and they do it to reproduce a new colony. When they are

"between colonies" they may just hang around on a tree branch for a couple of days then move on.

 

I just leave them alone unless they are hanging in a place where children or pets who don't know any better can annoy the bees and end up getting stung. In that case blowing some smoke on the swarm will get them to move on. That is how I convinced them to get off my boat!

 

Once they find a new colony, if it is also in a place that threatens children or pets, they may not move on so easily and a professional beekeeper may be needed to collect them. If they are not threatening anyone, it may be best to just leave them bee. hah!

 

But in your case, you will probably have the African bee and it is my understanding they can be very aggressive, so proceed with caution if you are lucky enough to get a swarm.

 



#3 Farming guy

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 01:59 PM

I have just read a local news item reporting on a swarm of bees. No big deal, but the reporter commented that it was a sticky problem, even when it was not known whether they were honey bees or not.

 

So my pedantry kicked in and I wondered whether there were species of bee which swarm but do not produce honey.

 

Any experts out there?

Sometimes, some people mistake wasps or hornets for bees, and they don't make honey, but if you happen to disturb a nest, they will swarm around you and sting you multiple times.  Fortunately, I have only disturbed small nests that were under shields of machinery I was working on, and I was quick enough in my retreat to get stung only a couple of times.  Wasps and hornets can sting multiple times, and they are quite aggressive.



#4 DrKrettin

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 02:44 PM

Sometimes, some people mistake wasps or hornets for bees, and they don't make honey, but if you happen to disturb a nest, they will swarm around you and sting you multiple times.  Fortunately, I have only disturbed small nests that were under shields of machinery I was working on, and I was quick enough in my retreat to get stung only a couple of times.  Wasps and hornets can sting multiple times, and they are quite aggressive.

 

Yes, but they don't actually behave in a swarm like bees, do they? They just attack en masse, which is not a swarm like bees.  The question is really are there species of bee which swarm other than honey bees.



#5 Farming guy

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 03:54 PM

Yes, but they don't actually behave in a swarm like bees, do they? They just attack en masse, which is not a swarm like bees.  The question is really are there species of bee which swarm other than honey bees.

It's hard to tell when you are running away as fast as you can!  They will attack en mass, and it will resemble a swarm.



#6 DrKrettin

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 01:21 AM

It's hard to tell when you are running away as fast as you can!  They will attack en mass, and it will resemble a swarm.

 

 

Yes but honey bees will swarm and effectively behave like one entity when looking for a new place for a hive, without being aggressive or it being a response to a perceived attack. Are other species known to do that?

 

By the way, when I had my farm, one evening I went to the local pub and noticed two other neighbours there, both looking severely injured. What had happened was that neighbour A had found a wasp's nest in a tree and asked neighbour B what to do about it. B was a man of few words and small brain, who said "I'll deal with it", and went up to the nest and shot it with a shotgun. Both men were attacked by wasps and severely stung. B admitted to me that he had never seen wasps so angry, and come to think of it, he had never seen A so angry either.  :shocked:



#7 hazelm

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 01:24 PM

Exactly what I was remembering, Farming Guy.  Wasps do indeed swarm.  A whole (herd?) of them attacked a friend once.   They were fighting mad and mean.  Had her on the run and screaming.  I don't know,though, what set them off.  Usually, stay away from their nests and they'll stay away from you.  My friend didn't say but I often wondered if she tried to knock the nest down.  Big mistake.



#8 exchemist

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:02 AM

Yes but honey bees will swarm and effectively behave like one entity when looking for a new place for a hive, without being aggressive or it being a response to a perceived attack. Are other species known to do that?

 

By the way, when I had my farm, one evening I went to the local pub and noticed two other neighbours there, both looking severely injured. What had happened was that neighbour A had found a wasp's nest in a tree and asked neighbour B what to do about it. B was a man of few words and small brain, who said "I'll deal with it", and went up to the nest and shot it with a shotgun. Both men were attacked by wasps and severely stung. B admitted to me that he had never seen wasps so angry, and come to think of it, he had never seen A so angry either.  :shocked:

There's an amusing item in the UK news on bees swarming, at the moment: http://www.bbc.co.uk...humber-40252990



#9 hazelm

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:05 PM

Here is a partial answer for you, DrKrettin.  This is from our Missouri Dept of Conservation and much more than you asked for.  I don't think she mentions honey but her answer does seem to be an answer of sorts.  What she says is:

 

cleardot.gif

Hi, Hazel,

 

I’m not aware of other bee species that swarm, and the guide that I use, “Common Missouri Bees and Wasps,” doesn’t mention swarming behavior by species other than the honeybee. Bumblebees do not swarm like honeybees do, but you might encounter a few outside the nest waiting for the queen to emerge so they can made.

 

When a honey bee swarm emerges from a hive they do not fly far at first. They may gather in a tree or on a branch only a few meters from the hive. In this new location, the bees cluster about the queen and send 20 -50 scout bees out to find a suitable new nest locations.

 

The scout bees are the most experienced foragers in the cluster. An individual scout returning to the cluster promotes a location she has found. She uses a dance similar to the waggle dance to indicate direction and distance to others in the cluster. The more excited she is about her findings the more excitedly she dances. If she can convince other scouts to check out the location she found, they may take off, check out the proposed site and promote the site further upon their return. Several different sites may be promoted by different scouts at first. After several hours and sometimes days, slowly a favorite location emerges from this decision making process. When all scouts agree on a final location the whole cluster takes off and flies to it. Sometimes, if no decision is reached, the swarm will separate, some bees going in one direction; others, going in another. This usually results in failure, with both groups dying.

 

A swarm may fly for a kilometer or more to the scouted out location, though some species may establish new colonies within as little as 500 meters from the natal nest, such as the giant honeybee, Apis dorsata. This collective decision making process is remarkably successful in identifying the most suitable new nest site and keeping the swarm intact. A good nest site has to be large enough to accommodate the swarm (about 15 litres in volume), has to be well protected from the elements, receive a certain amount of warmth from the sun, be some height above the ground, have a small entrance and resist the infestation of ants. Hence, trees are often selected.

 

I think you will find these articles interesting:

https://www.ealt.ca/...s-solitary-bees

https://bumblebeecon...ing-bumblebees/

 

I hope this helps,

 

Kristie Hilgedick

Ask MDC

Missouri Dept of Conservation



#10 DrKrettin

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:10 PM

Here is a partial answer for you, DrKrettin.  This is from our Missouri Dept of Conservation and much more than you asked for.  I don't think she mentions honey but her answer does seem to be an answer of sorts.  What she says is:

 

cleardot.gif

 

 

Thanks for that, all very interesting. I know the bumble bee does not swarm, from the etymology, it used to be a humble bee on account of it being rather solitary. But it does look from what your contact says as though the honey bee is indeed the only kind of bee to make a swarm, which is what I was originally asking. 


Edited by DrKrettin, 13 June 2017 - 01:10 PM.


#11 exchemist

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 02:03 PM

I am old enough to recall Clive James on TV with a badge reading "The Swarm", a reference to one of the worst ever films: https://en.wikipedia...he_Swarm_(film)



#12 Farming guy

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 05:05 PM

I am old enough to recall Clive James on TV with a badge reading "The Swarm", a reference to one of the worst ever films: https://en.wikipedia...he_Swarm_(film)

You must certainly have meant to write "young enough to recall.."    That is one of my favorite bad films!



#13 exchemist

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 02:00 AM

You must certainly have meant to write "young enough to recall.."    That is one of my favorite bad films!

No I'm not quite old enough, yet, to need to write "young enough". :)