File this one under your just in case, maybe someday, folder.
If you’ve ever come across a bee swarm—where thousands of bees cluster together in a buzzing, pulsing mass—you have an idea of what the latter is all about. Bee society normally takes place in the dark confines of the nest, but when they suddenly have the urge to find a new home, the true meaning of hive-mind is on full display.
Bees typically swarm in spring or early summer as the population of the nest—or in the case of domesticated honeybees, the hive—begins to swell. The queen bee, who until this time has never left the nest, seeks a new home with a horde of worker bees in tow. She usually lands within 100 feet or so of the old hive, while a few scout bees go out to look for a suitable new home. The rest of the bees pile on top of her to keep her warm and safe until a scout sends out a special pheromone to call the swarm to the hollow tree, chimney, or wherever they’ve discovered to build their civilization anew. Half of the bees typically stay put in the original nest, where they wait for a new queen to be born from eggs that were already laid.
Naturally, discovering a swarm of bees in the yard is frightening for the uninitiated. But it will make a beekeeper’s day. Beekeepers are always on the lookout for a swarm so they can add another hive to their collection for free. These fugitives may have escaped from a nearby beekeeper’s hive, or they may be feral honeybees living au naturel, which are especially desirable for a new hive because they tend to be genetically robust and disease-free compared to those reared by the million in apiaries and shipped in the mail…
Read on at Modern Farmer.