Bee Swarms

Honeybees reproduce at an individual level – as when a queen lays an egg and that egg hatches. However, they also reproduce at the “super-organism” or hive level. When a hive gets large enough, it will raise new queens to replace the current queen, as she is sent with roughly half the worker bees of the hive to create a swarm.

A swarm of bees will gather, usually in an elevated location in a ball-like shape. This “bivouacked” swarm will then begin a process of finding a new home through truly fascinating means, which we know about due to the hard work of researchers. [Introduction article: https://www.americanscientist.org/article/group-decision-making-in-honey-bee-swarms].

While most of the bees ‘hang out,’ scout bees (usually experienced forager adults) will leave the swarm during the day to find an optimal hive location. The scouts then return, communicate their excitement about and location of a desirable location with a “waggle dance,” and allow other scout bees to evaluate the location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately, the bees end up "voting" on a new home. Once that vote is (usually) unanimous, the swarm recognizes the consensus and flies to the location designated through the “waggle dance.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.cornell.edu/video/honeybee-decision-making

For the truly interested, “Honeybee Democracy” by Tom Seeley is well worth a read/listen.

©2019 by Bob's Bee Relocation, LLC