The Bees Have Gone Away

Just a quick update…2 days ago, at approximately 4:30pm that huge cluster of bees up and left. I don’t know what happens to bees without a queen…or where they go…but they went. They were there at 4pm, and gone at 5. Odd.


How Heavy is a Bee Swarm?

Bee Swarm on Branches

Bee Swarm on Branches

If you saw my post on the Bee Swarm that happened after the hive removal, then you know they all gathered on a few small branches at the top of the tree, as shown in this picture, taken last night.




Bee Swarm Bending Branches

Bee Swarm Bending Branches

The branches now look like this second picture, indicating the bees are either heavy enough to bend the branches, or break them.

I was going to use WolframAlpha to do a quick calculation – but apparently Wolfram does not know what a whole honey bee weighs. It does know that wing weight | 0.0024 oz (ounces). Unfortunately that doesn’t help me right now. Either way – a bunch of bees is pretty heavy. I’ll see if I can get a more accurate answer. Feel free to leave your ideas/guesses/formulas or answers as a comment!

Sad Day: Feral Beehive Removed

Beehive on GroundIt is a sad day here, if you ask me. If you recall my post on a beehive in our yard – you know that there was a giant hive in our tree. In fact, the pest control guy that came to remove it said it was the largest hive in a tree he has ever seen! When he was done spraying it with insecticide and soapy water using a hose-end attachment, he knocked it down with a hammer.

I’m not sure exactly what he had to do to gain access to it other than climb a ladder and stand on branches. I was taking photos of the area from behind our living room window. It seemed safer that way, for sure!

Safety is why we decided to have it removed. I’m not sure what the liabilities of having a giant hive in your yard are, exactly…but I do know that school buses stop within 50 yards of the tree – and having a large hive with wild bees didn’t seem to be the smartest thing – so we reluctantly had it removed.

Bee Swarm Top of Tree

Bee Swarm Top of Tree - That swarm is about 3' Long by my estimate!

Now, the hive is gone. Actually I think its gone – I haven’t ventured to the tree to peek yet! I watched the guy bag up a huge amount of comb, and there are dead/dying bees strewn all over the yard now…but there is also a huge swarm of bees clustered on a branch at the top of the tree – probably scared and unsure of what to do without their queen.

The “bug guy” tells me that the swarm will die off or move sooner or later. May take a week, he said, due to the size of the hive (which he estimated at the size of a kitchen trash can).

Bee Swarm Moves Up Branch

Bee Swarm Moves Up Branch

I can definitely say, that there were no unhappy bees in this hive until we decided to mess with Mother Nature. Now, there are a bunch of confused bees with nothing to do except buzz around this branch…and I feel bad about that.

WHOA! Bee Swarm!

I was outside in the back yard, putting a couple of the Bali tomato seedlings into the Earthbox and heard a buzzing sound – which I assumed to be a small plane approaching the nearby airport, which they do frequently. I was wrong. The buzz was approaching loudly and fast and it passed overhead quite quickly – with a noticeable Doppler shift which allowed me to look up and immediately locate a pretty good sized swarm of bees heading west. I don’t know if that means the hive in the front yard has split, or this was another group of bees, but it looked to me like they might be heading to another large tree down the block! Kind of cool.

Found the Bees

Bees in Ficus Tree

Bees in Ficus Tree

In a previous post, I asked where the bees were. Well, I no longer wonder. They are living in the Ficus tree in my front yard! It’s a big hive, and it’s way up in the tree.

I think they arrived in a swarm last spring. I saw the cloud of bees in the yard, but never saw them land.The tree is very densely leaved, so I failed to notice the hive until this winter as I was raking up leaves.

In Arizona most wild bees are considered Africanized, but these bees don’t seem to pay attention to us or the neighbors. They enter and exit the hive at the top of the tree and fly over the roof of the house during their daily pollen gathering.  That is proving to be a good thing, because my latest efforts at growing things is directly behind this tree in my backyard, so pollination is happening nicely with these girls hard at work.

The Bee Crib Looks Interesting

All over the world, people keep bees using a variety of methods. One that is popular in Africa, and other developing countries, is the top-bar hive. Honey production is lower, but so is the startup cost.

There are some design students in New Zealand that have an interesting concept for a hive like this. It is a flat-pack design that is CNC machined, called the Bee Crib. I can see this being mass-produced and available just about anywhere, for almost nothing. Ikea immediately comes to mind as one of the first places this will show up; due to its flat-pack design, of course.

Since I have a hard time getting bees to stop by my container garden, perhaps I should raise some myself. Now, if only I knew where to get one of these babies.