Our mailman’s name is Doug. He’s a personable, helpful, and knowledgeable sort of guy. I like him. So a few days ago when he told me not to walk across the street if I want to escape injury, I naturally became concerned.
He told me that right across the road from where I stood in my doorway, in that tree right there, was a large and angry swarm of bees. I stepped out into the front yard, and sure enough, there was a cloud of the little devils buzzing huge circles over about a 30 foot or so area. Doug told me that he had watched as several passersby had walked inadvertently into the bees, only to run shouting and waving their arms. I thanked Doug for the warning and resolved to take a different path on my next walk.
Two days later the owner (or is he the owner’s brother? I can never remember) of the little catering service next door told me that there was a swarm of bees in my front yard, and they had been scaring the customers away. (They also sell take out dinners… though they call them carry away…) He pointed up into my magnolia tree and said that they were building a hive up there. It appeared so.
I hopped on the internet and Lena started calling beekeepers and removal people. ($300 to remove a hive, BTW.) It seems that in the spring, honeybees often produce extra queens, which will divide the hive up, gorge themselves on honey, and fly off in search of new digs. The resultant swarm is actually when the bees are their least hazardous, and much less likely to be provoked by something stupid the humans might do. (Like running about shouting and waving their arms.) The bees will zip from place to place, lighting for up to a few days, before moving on in search of the perfect place. The swarm will clump together in a tree, under an eave, or some other potential spot to build. (If they stay more than 3 days or you see the wax honeycomb, you can start worrying about a hive, otherwise they’re likely moving on.)
Anyway, I thought the thing was pretty fascinating so I went out and took a pic for you guys to see. Sorry for the camera movement, but the wind was blowing and I was trying unsuccessfully to track the swarm. You can still get a pretty good look at it though.