Monday, May 02, 2011

Royal Wedding: Ranch Edition

We’re told as many as 3 billion people watched the royal wedding last Friday. 

Meanwhile, at the ranch, thousands of bees (and two humans) were in attendance at the coronation of a new queen on Sunday. Actually two queens—another swarm was reported a day before at our neighbor’s up the hill. It’s that season.  

Image courtesy of "designsbysherry"
On Friday it was extremely windy all day long. Then Saturday the wind dropped and it turned warm. 

On a walk we noticed the leaves are already dry and crackling underfoot, which they hadn’t been before the wind. With wind comes change. 

Andrew heard the enormous buzzing sound when he walked out the front door in the early afternoon.  It is a sound like no other—a steady, insistent hum. It's alarming, but I've been told bees are usually not aggressive while swarming. 

Last season our beekeeper, Jeff, placed two hives in a new spot on the hill outside our kitchen window, and it looked like the swarm came from one of them. The outside of both hives were coated with a layer of bees. 

A huge number of bees were circling in a cloud above the hives, and forming a clump high up in an oak. It looked like there might have been a second swarm happening lower down in the same tree, but we couldn’t see any more clumps.   

In bee swarms, the new queen is usually the one that stays behind in the hive, while the old queen leaves with about half of the hive's worker bees to find a new location to build a hive. 

It is great news that they made it through the winter, and are strong enough to grow out of their hive.  They disappeared an hour or so later. 

For some reason this did not make the headlines like the "other" royal wedding, but it was an important event in the natural world nonetheless. 


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