By Jannie Vaught
As the year 2021 starts I often find myself looking forward to all the possibilities ahead. One has been to become acquainted with the Honey Bee. I have observed them and watched them pollinate my garden and flower beds. And fly away to unknown locations, but always happy to have them visit. What got me wanting to understand the bee was watching “Wild Bees” swarm in the spring. usually hanging from a tree branch up high.
But how do they make a “nest”?
I found many information sites on this. The term hive is for a box of bees and nest is for wild bees. When a swarm needs a place to build their nest due to their exposed location the Scout will go searching for a location. A hollow tree trunk high up at least 9 feet up. Oak, Elm, and large trees are preferred. The scout goes in and measures top to bottom side to side. If this is the best location he returns to the swarm and they follow him to the new nesting location. They prefer south facing and protection from wind and heavy weather. When they enter a cavity in the wild they move up, around the edges searching for the ceiling a secure sturdy surface to build downward from. Attaching themselves to the other with tiny hooks on their legs, a group of workers will form a loop, a living chain. Inside this loop, more workers gather and begin building the wax comb vertically. Very systematically they build with the correct size area for food storage, rearing young and then sealing with propolis. Leaving a very small hole for entry and exit at the bottom to ensure their safety.
How do you not admire their sense of family community?
When cold weather arrives they will gather in the center of the nest and use a motion much like flying to generate warmth. Then the colder outside bees will return to the inside and the inside bees will go to the outside in a continuous rotation. The protection of the nest is crucial for their survival. I have watches horses in a blizzard in Wyoming use this technique, but they will form a V shape with noses to the wind. When they need to warm themselves they shake the ice off their face and rotate back to the center and the next will face the storm. Penguins do the same forming a central cluster keeping the inside ones warm and rotating the outside into the center.
Although I started with researching Wild Bees I soon realized that the Natural world has techniques I often overlook. The importance of family and community. That the continuation of the Nest, Herd, Family goes beyond all reason and what a wonderful lesson that was given by a tiny cluster of Wild Bees!.
Growing Green With Jannie