30,000 bees abuzz in Daleville swarm

BY Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

30,000 bees abuzz in Daleville swarm
The size of the swarm indicates an estimate of how many bees make it up. In a Daleville swarm last Wednesday, March 23, an estimate 30,000 bees had made their way to a tree on the corner of Simpson Drive and South Daleville Avenue—a daily school bus stop.Concerned citizens who saw the buzzing bees and the swarm that was shaped somewhat like a large fish, called police. Local beekeeper Amanda Townsley and her husband Neal were then notified. Townsley sprayed sugar water on the swarm as it hung in the tree, and then calmly removed large parts of the gathered bees. She placed them in one of her empty hive containers and smoked the bees to calm them down. “I sprayed them down because they can’t fly with the moisture in their wings,” the beekeeper said.Townsley said it’s not uncommon to see swarms this time of year as honey bees are busy reproducing in the springtime. “Half of them (original hive) were looking for a new home,” she said. “The queen and her workers take half the honey and half the bees and leave. They leave brood and stuff inside the hive to make another queen and to make another hive. Then, they take off to find another home…They hang together and they keep the queen warm and send out scout bees that will come back and tell the swarm the places they’ve found.”According to an article on wikipedia.com, “Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. In the process of swarming the original single colony reproduces two and sometimes more colonies. Scout bees search for suitable cavities in which to construct the swarm’s (new) home. Successful scouts will then come back and report the location of suitable nesting sites to the other bees.“Worker bees create queen cups throughout the year. When the hive gets ready to swarm the queen lays eggs into the queen cups. New queens are raised and the hive may swarm as soon as the queen cells are capped and before the new virgin queens emerge from their queen cells. A laying queen is too heavy to fly long distances. Therefore, the workers will stop feeding her before the anticipated swarm date and the queen will stop laying eggs…During the swarm preparation, scout bees will simply find a nearby location for the swarm to cluster…They may gather in a tree or on a branch (near) the hive. There, they cluster about the queen and send 20 - 50 scout bees out to find suitable new nest locations.”Townsley said the swarm probably had not been clustering on the tree for long and likely would not have stayed, but it was important to remove them to protect the children who would soon be stepping off school buses next to the swarm. She said the children or anyone likely would not have been stung unless the bees were “molested” in some way, such as by thrown rocks and sticks. The veteran beekeeper—with about one million bees in her 40 hives at home—advises the public to call her or call the police if a swarm is seen as she has protective clothing to protect her from stings.
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