Audubon has an indoor, glass-walled demonstration bee hive.
It’s pretty cool. You can watch the worker bees tending the hive, doing the waggle dance, living their lives. Sometimes you can find the Queen and watch her lay eggs.
You can see the honey stores they build up to help them survive through the winter.
There is a tunnel that goes through the wall to the outside, so the workers can go out to get nectar and pollen.
OK, so that’s the background… Here’s the coolest thing ever: Walt Dahlgren, our beekeeper, told us a week or so ago that our hive was getting very large and that he had identified two queens. When this happens, one queen will leave and about half the workers will go with her… Today was the day! At around lunchtime, a mass exodus from the hive occurred. The bees congregated on branches of the locust tree just outside the building.
Jeff called Walt right away but he was not able to come until 3 or 3:30. In the time it took him to get to Audubon, the activity of the bees lessened and the ball became more compact.
While we watched the bees, we noticed a few dragonflies coming through. We joked that maybe they were there to eat the bees… not believing it could be true. Then one landed on my sleeve with a bee in its mandibles. We watched it chew… I tried to get a shot with my camera… but the lens I had on was not great for this close range! (Hopefully one of Jeff’s pictures came out better.)
Most fascinating of all was when Walt arrived and set up a shop vac to suck the bees into an empty hive.
For the most part, the bees were quite calm and put up with this process with no agitation. Toward the end, though, one found me and decided I was a threat. I got stung twice on my face, and Jeff got stung once. But it was so fascinating, it was all worth it.