• Bob Baskin

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great was never one to settle for...well..less than greatness. In this case, she found a wonderful residential home, complete with fruit trees, a pool for water, and walls for wind shelter. Unfortunately for her, a monsoon was about to have other plans. Catherine has agreed to a relocation to her estates in Marana until the potential coup-d'état blows over.

This time we've got some wonderful pictures of the swarm huddling against the wind and rain. Swarming is actually a term referring to the hive-level reproduction of honey bees. There are many types of swarms, but these bees have probably come from a well established and successful hive nearby. Due to the size and genetics of this swarm, it's difficult to tell if this is what we call a "Prime Swarm" (the old queen leaves with about two-third of the hive) or a "Bull Swarm" (after a Prime Swarm, a hive can swarm again, smaller, with a virgin queen). We could confirm this by checking the queen to see her mating status, but our priority for today was to get these ladies settled before the monsoon swept it.

Normally, a swarm would be sending scout bees to find an ideal location for a new hive. However, due to the storm blowing in, there are no bees coming and going from this swarm.

You may have noticed how yellow the abdomen's of these bees are. Before a hive swarms, they load up on honey, which you can see in their "honey stomach." This honey stomach is separate from their true, digestive stomach. The honey stomach is not only where bees use enzymes to convert the nectar into honey (then spit it into the hive, where the honey is capped to prevent fermentation), but also a temporary storage for honey when bees need to quickly consume their available resources then re-use them. For instance, if they need to swarm, as here, they will load up on honey before they go so that they have the resources they need to build some comb as soon as they find a suitable spot.


Catherine the Great determining if the box she now finds herself in is that suitable home she was looking for.

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