Monday, July 23, 2007

Wild Bee Swarm

We all know that bears like honey. Winnie the Pooh was addicted to the stuff. Bears get their honey from wild bee hives or by raiding a bee keepers’ hive. Bee keepers can protect their hives from bears by surrounding them with electric fencing.

Wild bees live in hollow trees. From time to time the queen bee decides to relocate the hive. She takes off in search of a new home and all the bees follow her. When she stops the hive swarms around the queen to protect her. The above photo was taken at a camp site in Pearrygin Lake State Park near Winthrop in the Methow Valley. Fortunately no bears were following this swarm. When bees are swarming they do not sting and can be approached without fear.

A local bee keeper was called in by the park ranger to remove the hive. He placed a box below the swarm and shook the tree causing the queen to fall onto the top of the box. All the other bees followed her into the box. The bees had a new home and the keeper got a new hive.