One day as I was on my way to the store when I saw something in the distance in our local park that was out of the ordinary. I was pretty sure that I knew what it was as I had seen it before, so I drove closer.
Can you see it? It is the dark mass on the right side of a newly planted Desert Willow tree.
Once I realized that my guess was right, I drove right back home to get my trusty camera.
What this is, is a swarm of bees that has stopped to rest in this tree.
Swarming is actually a fascinating phenomenon. Usually the old queen bee of a colony lays special eggs to create a new queen bee. The old queen then leaves her colony with a bunch of worker bees to form a new colony somewhere else.
They usually stop along the way for a day or two, which is what happened here. While they are resting, scout bees are sent out to look for a new place to build their colony. This is a very vulnerable time for the bees as they are unprotected. The queen is located in the center of the mass for better protection.
Swarming usually occurs during a 2 – 3 week period in the spring. You do not have to do anything if you see a swarm, but stay away. The bees will usually leave within a day or two. If they are in a dangerous location, then a bee keeper can take them somewhere else and re-release them. You can read more about bee swarms here.
Did you know that bee keepers clip the wings of their queens to keep them from flying away? I think that is just so interesting, although I wouldn’t want to do it 😉