Here’s How Clumps Of Honeybees May Survive Blowing In The Wind

Science News    By Emily Conover     September 17, 2018

In lab tests, the insects adjust their positions to flatten out the cluster and keep it stable.

BEE BALL Certain types of bees tend to arrange into clusters on tree branches. Bees move around within a clump to maintain its stability, a new study finds.

A stiff breeze is no match for a clump of honeybees, and now scientists are beginning to understand why.

When scouting out a new home, the bees tend to cluster together on tree branches or other surfaces, forming large, hanging clumps which help keep the insects safe from the elements. To keep the clump together, individual honeybees change their positions, fine-tuning the cluster’s shape based on external forces, a new study finds. That could help bees deal with such disturbances as wind shaking the branches.

A team of scientists built a movable platform with a caged queen in the center, around which honeybees clustered in a hanging bunch. When the researchers shook the platform back and forth, bees moved upward, flattening out the clump and lessening its swaying, the team reports September 17 in Nature Physics.

The insects, the scientists hypothesized, might be moving based on the strain — how much each bee is pulled apart from its neighbors as the cluster swings. So the researchers made a computer simulation of a bee cluster to determine how the bees decided where to move.

When the simulated bees were programmed to move to areas of higher strain, the simulation reproduced the observed flattening of the cluster, the researchers found. As a bee moves to a higher-strain region, the insect must bear more of the burden. So by taking one for the team, the bees ensure the clump stays intact.

O. Peleg et al. Collective mechanical adaptation of honeybee swarms. Nature Physics. Published online September 17, 2018. doi:10.1038/s41567-018-0262-1.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/heres-how-clumps-honeybees-may-survive-blowing-wind

Summer Safety: How to Avoid Bee-Swarm Attacks

Scientific American   By Osha Gray Davidson   June 13, 2016    

Hard as it may be to resist, do not swat at the bees that come at you

Honeybee on a brittlebush. Credit: Osha Gray DavidsonOn a late May morning a pair of young hikers were walking along a popular desert trail near Mesa, Ariz., when they heard the buzzing of honeybees. The hikers, Alex and Sonya, were unaware that they had happened upon an extraordinarily large hive, which experts later estimated contained about 50,000 Africanized honeybees. The bees gather nectar from the carpet of wildflowers that covers the desert floor, peaking in May and June, supporting colonies that quickly grow from a few thousand individuals to 10,000 bees or more.

The bees would not have begun stinging immediately, according to Carl Olson, an entomologist at the University of Arizona. “Honeybees are pretty good at warning people away,” he says. “Just as a rattlesnake will vibrate its tail as a warning, the first honeybees out of a hive will bump the person invading, saying ‘Leave!’.”

Sonya, who lived and often hiked in the area, had moved farther down the trail and took off running. But Alex, a visitor from North Dakota, may have swatted the bees. Swatting is a natural human reaction, but arm-waving and slapping at bees can turn a chance encounter into an attack, says Justin Schmidt, an insect behaviorist at the Tucson-based Southwest Biological Institute and author of the recently published book,The Sting of the Wild.

“Bees don’t form images in the same way that humans do,” he explains. “They use vision primarily to detect motion, and quick or jerky movements near a nest are interpreted as a threat.” The bees respond by stinging, injecting a venom consisting primarily of the peptides melittin and phospholipase.

Once embedded in the skin stingers also release tagging pheromones, potent chemical signals that attract and arouse other bees. When released near a colony, these pheromones can provoke a massive defensive swarm from the females guarding the nest. “The chemical signal says, ‘Here, sisters, here is where I found a chink in the armor of this big attacking predator,’” Schmidt says. “It really arouses them.”

Running and taking cover inside a park restroom probably saved Sonya’s life. But her friend wasn’t so fortunate. Rescuers found Alex on the ground near the hive, covered with bees. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but the young man soon succumbed to the toxic effects of more than 1,000 stings.

Following the tragedy, the local sheriff told reporters “these attacks are becoming more frequent.” That’s possible, Schmidt says. After all, cities are expanding into previously undisturbed areas and more people are out hiking than ever before. But, as Schmidt points out, claims that mass envenomations—the technical term for large-scale bee attacks—are on the rise are purely speculative. “No one is keeping track,” he says. “We simply don’t have databases with that kind of information.”

The threat from Africanized honeybees has been exaggerated since the European-African hybrids escaped from hives in Brazil in the 1950s, reaching Texas three decades later and spreading throughout the Southwest, where the hot, dry conditions allow them to thrive. Investigators first thought that an Africanized honeybee sting was more lethal than that of other bees. But in 1989 Schmidt co-authored a study in Nature that found no difference in the lethality of the venom from various honeybee subspecies. The authors concluded: “Perhaps use of the popular term ‘killer bee’ to describe the Africanized bee is inappropriate.”

Although fatal encounters with hikers are extremely rare, Schmidt has a few simple suggestions to ensure safe hiking in areas where bees are likely present:

  • Wear light-colored clothing. Honeybees have evolved to recognize threats from predators like bears, honey badgers and other dark-furred mammals. Also avoid the color red, which appears black to bees.
  • Never approach or disturb a nest. If you notice bees entering or exiting a rock crevice, a hole in the ground or a tree cavity, assume there’s a nest present and leave the area immediately.
  • Pay attention to bee behavior. If bees fly into you or begin to swarm over or around you, they are probably trying to warn you off. Remember: don’t swat at the bees, just leave.
  • If you accidently disturb a nest, run immediately. Try to get to an enclosed shelter (such as a car) or run until the bees stop following you. It may be necessary to get a quarter mile or more away from where the attack began. Cover your face with whatever is handy, if you can do so without impairing your vision.
  • Never jump into a body of water to escape bees. They will wait for you to surface. Schmidt points to a case in which a swarm of bees hovered for hours over a man in a lake, stinging him whenever he came up for air. (The man survived only because the bees returned to their hive after sunset.)

Schmidt warns that some commonly seen tips for avoiding bee attacks may appear reasonable but have no scientific basis. “You often read things like ‘avoid floral-scented perfumes and deodorants,’ but that’s a bunch of malarkey,” he says. “The primary sensory modality for insects is odor but there is absolutely no experimental evidence that smelling like a flower attracts bees.”

Fortunately, avoiding potentially dangerous interactions with bees is straightforward. “Just be sensible for heaven’s sake,” Schmidt advises. “Pay attention to posted warnings. Wear light colors. And if you see bees, get away from them.”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/summer-safety-how-to-avoid-bee-swarm-attacks/?wt.mc=SA_Facebook-Share

Flight Guidance Mechanisms of Honey Bee Swarms: How They Get Where They Are Going

Bee Culture Magazine    By Tom Seeley and Ann Chilcott    May 15, 2015

Kirk Visscher, left and Tom Seeley in 2006, watching a test swarm move into a bait hive on appledore Island, in the State of Maine. (photo by Peter EssickAnyone who observes a swarm of bees launch into flight and move off to its new home is presented with a mind-boggling puzzle: how does this school-bus sized cloud of some 10,000 insects manage to fly straight to its new dwelling place? Its flight path may extend for several miles and traverse fields and forest, hilltops and valleys, and even swamps and lakes. What is most amazing is the precision of the flight guidance, for the swarm is able to steer itself to one special point in the landscape, e.g. a specific knothole in one particular tree in a certain corner of a forest. And as the swarm closes in on its destination, it gradually reduces its flight speed so that it stops precisely at the “front door” of its new home. The mystery of how the thousands of bees in a swarm accomplish this magnificent feat of precisely oriented group flight has been carefully probed in recent years using sophisticated radar tracking, video recording, and image processing technologies. In this article, we will review the main findings of these investigations.

First, let’s define the problem a bit more precisely...

Read more: http://www.beeculture.com/flight-guidance-mechanisms-of-honey-bee-swarms-how-they-get-where-they-are-going/

The Behavioural Ecology of Swarming in Honey Bees

National Honey Show   Published January 6, 2016
A lecture given by Juliana Rangel at the 2015 National Honey Show entitled "The Behavioural Ecology of Swarming in Honey Bees". The National Honey Show gratefully acknowledge the Nineveh Charitable Trust for their support and the sponsorship by Maisemore Apiaries Ltd.

Bees Swarm, Kill Man Cutting Grass

USA Today  By Jim Douglas     June 10, 2015

SODA SPRINGS CREEK, Texas — Bees attacked a man mowing his neighbor's vacant lot, killing him, authorities said Tuesday.

Dee Daugherty, 65, was mowing his neighbor's lot Sunday to repay a favor in this small community about 60 miles west of Fort Worth. Constable Gary Morris thinks that Daugherty might have bumped a small shed, not knowing a large hive was behind the plywood wall.

Part of the hive fell. A cloud of bees flew out.

"You can see down at the bottom. There's a little bit of hive right down here," Morris said. "There were thousands of bees."

Daugherty apparently tried to get away, Morris said.

"Actually, (he) went out another 30 feet that way. They swarmed him over there," the constable said. "Mr. Daugherty had to get off and go by foot over to his house where his wife tried to take care of him until they called 911."

Two neighbors, one of them a nurse, rushed to help. One neighbor who tried to help said Daugherty was extremely swollen in his face and neck.

He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Morris said. His official cause of death has not yet been determined.

A beekeeper told Morris that the insects do not appear to be aggressive, Africanized bees. The bees will be tested, but the beekeeper easily moved the hive to another location.

Friends say Dee Daugherty lived here along the Brazos River for many years. Morris said everyone knew him.

"You can drive up this road almost any time, and Dee would be out doing something," Morris said. "He was always out there working."

Read and View: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/09/bee-attack-death/28771365/

Keeping Bees Healthy: Bee Symposium on May 9th at UC Davis Center

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey   January 16, 2015

Distinguished McKnight Professor and 2010 MacArthur Fellow Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota, will keynote a University of California, Davis symposium on ”Keeping Bees Healthy," hosted May 9 by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Spivak will speak on "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet." The symposium, set for m 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., will take place in the UC Davis Conference Center on Alumni Drive.

“This educational program is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees...

Read more... http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=16497

Update: 2/4/15: If you're planning to attend the #ucdavis bee symposium featuring Marla Spivak, you ought to hurry. Just head that tickets are going fast. Student tickets discounted. 

Queen Bank Swarming

NewYorkCityBeekeeping.org  July 14, 2014

The hive in this video is swarming, but comes back home. What wizardry is this?

The hive is a queen bank, so all the queens in the hive are caged. When the swarm realizes there is no queen with them, they return to the hive, even ignoring the queen on the step ladder, as it is unfamiliar to them.

The lesson here is that when you make a split to avoid a swarm, the old queen must move to the split, not stay in the parent hive. (Video and queen bank courtesy of Karen Thurlow-Kimball of Brown's Bee Farm in North Yarmouth, Maine, not far from Sebascodegan Island). 

Once a week for the past three weeks every bee in my queen bank will swarm out. The entrance is small so I pull off the cover when I see it happening so they do not clog it up. They all fly out, fly around the field, realize there is no queen with them and return to the hive. Meanwhile the queens in the cages start piping loudly to the swarming bees. This time I put a step ladder in the field with a caged queen on it to see if they would land, all but a few ignored it. They went to the hive and then the few that had landed on the cage went back too. It is amazing to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1gjupB8X9o

Thousands of Bees Attack Couple, Horses in Pantengo, TX

The Star Telegram  By Jessamy Brown  7/26/13

For the past few weeks, Kristen Beauregard had noticed bees near her home and had tried in vain to get rid of them.

The bees would fly in and out of a shed in the backyard of the rental property on Miller Lane, but she had no idea of the danger that was buzzing inside.

Wednesday evening, as Beauregard was exercising one of her two miniature horses, thousands of angry bees attacked her, her boyfriend and the horses. Beauregard was stung about 200 times and her boyfriend 50. The two horses were stung so much that they did not survive.

“They were chasing us down, they were following us,” she said. “We swept up piles and piles of them. ... It was like a bad movie.”

The couple doesn’t know what caused the swarm of bees — estimated 30,000 — to leave their hive and attack. The bees are being tested to find out whether they are Africanized bees, also known as “killer bees” for their aggressive behavior.

Beauregard, 44, is healing from the stings and praising emergency workers for braving the attack and trying to save animals.

Beauregard said she noticed nothing out of the ordinary as she exercised Trump, a Shetland pony, until he started jumping and kicking. Suddenly, a dark cloud of bees appeared and began stinging both of them. When efforts to swipe the bees off failed, she jumped into the pool and Trump followed.

“It got all dark, like it was nighttime there were so many bees,” she said. “We were trying to stand up in the water but every time we stuck our heads out for air, they would cover us and start stinging us. We were trying to breathe and they were stinging us in the face and in the nose.”

She escaped into the house, with bees flying behind her and crashing into windows. Horrified, she watched Trump frantically run all over the yard, rubbing against bushes to wipe off the bees and stumbling. Her boyfriend, whom she declined to identify, called 911 as the bees overwhelmed Trump and a second horse, Chip.

“It looked like they were moving because they were so covered in bees,” Beauregard said, breaking into tears. “It just looked like they were shimmering because the bees were on them and stinging them.”

Firefighters put on their gear and headed to the backyard, squirting foam to clear out the clouds of bees. They were able drag the distressed animals into a pasture, where police and paramedics —some wearing their uniform shirts without extra protection — worked to try to save the horses, injecting medicine to treat allergic reactions and giving “massive doses of Benadryl,” an antihistamine. One worker administered oxygen to the horses through a face mask, Beauregard said.

Police and fire crews, some of whom own horses, called buddies and veterinarians for advice on treating the horses. They checked Beauregard’s eyes and pulled stingers out of her body, but she refused to go to a hospital. Officials stayed with the couple late into the evening.

Chip, a 6-year-old show horse, died shortly before Mansfield equine veterinarian Patricia Tersteeg arrived at about 10 p.m. Trump was loaded onto a trailer and spent the night at her clinic.

Tersteeg had to sedate Trump because he was so agitated and his eyes were swollen shut. She treated Trump with a series of drugs, but he died early Friday.

“He had so much swelling in his face, he must have kept his face above water to breathe. That’s where all the bee stings concentrated,” Tersteeg said. “He was so overwhelmed by bites that his body could not handle it. That’s way too much for any 250 pound mammal to survive.”

In addition to the horses, the bees killed five hens. A sixth has stingers all over her body and her eyes were swollen shut. The couple’s dog was stung several times, too.

A beekeeper disposed of the hive and a sample of the bees was sent to experts to determine whether they were Africanized honey bees, also called “killer bees,” said Barry Reeves, Pantego assistant police chief.

“A beekeeper disposed of the bees yesterday morning due to the fact that they were aggressive,” Reeves said. “We were told it was a hybrid honey bee.”

The whole ordeal, said Beauregard, has been “incredibly painful.”

The only place Beauregard wasn’t stung was on her feet, which were protected by shoes. And at first, her heart was racing, keeping her awake all of Wednesday night, but that improved by Thursday morning and now she is sore, can hardly move her muscles and has bumps all over, even on her eyelids. She’s treating herself with Benadryl.

Looking back, she worries about what could have happened if the bees had attacked residents of the nursing home next door.

“I want everyone to know if you see bees on your property it needs to be taken care of immediately,” Beauregard said. “We did not disturb the hive. We were nowhere near it.”

Experts: Swarms are Moving, But it's too Early to Predict Busy Bee Season

Cronkite News Service   By Matthew Longdon  4/13/13

PHOENIX – Over the past two weeks, officials at Arizona State University closed off parts of the Tempe and Polytechnic campuses four times due to bee swarms.

Bee attacks reported in Tucson and the Valley have left several dogs dead and injured people.

This is the time of year that bees are on the move to form new hives, but Scottsdale beekeeper Emily Brown said this year could see more swarms after winter rains led to more flowers and pollen.

She said it’s important at this time of year for homeowners to look around their property for bees.

“The trick is to catch the swarms early and remove them as quick as possible,” said Brown, who removes and relocates unwelcome bee colonies. “It’s when people wait too long that we get into these bad situations where people are getting stung and hives are getting disrupted.”

rowded bee colonies divide in the spring and follow queens to new locales, a process that Brown said continues until June or July. The transient bees, called swarms, will rest in a prospective area while scouting for the best place to create a hive.

Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, research leader and location coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, said that despite the wet winter there’s no way to tell whether there will be more bee swarms.

She said swarms will seek to build hives in crevices in structures, plants and elsewhere because they offer safety from predators.

It’s important to remove bees early, DeGrandi-Hoffman said, because they will have more to defend once the hive is established.

“Their colonies are resource rich,” she said. “Larvae, nectar, honey, things in nature, like raccoons, bears and humans, want those resources.”

Bees don’t go out of the way to attack people or animals, she said, and most attacks are prompted by people stumbling onto a hive or trying to remove bees rather than calling a professional.

“It’s costly to the population to defend the hive through aggression, that’s why they pull hair or they’ll bounce into you as warning signs that they’re interpreting you as a threat,” she said. “They only resort to stinging last.”

Africanized honeybees are particularly dangerous because they have a lower tolerance for people and animals perceived as intruders. Attacks by the so-called killer bees can be especially dangerous to the elderly, those allergic to bees and dogs that are unable to seek shelter.

The Mesa Fire and Medical Department receives about 10 calls a month about bees, but attacks are rare, public information officer Forrest Smith said. Firefighters will use foam to stop bee attacks, he said.

“We try to tell people if there’s a swarm to stay away,” he said.

From havasunews.com

For Bee Removal in the Los Angeles area, see our Swarm Removal page.

Webinar: Swarms and Swarm Management (Dr. Tew/OSU Bee Lab)

Dr. Jim Tew: Swarms and Swarm Management

DATE: Wednesday, April 10th    TIME: 9AM EDT  6AM PDT

Dr. Tew is beekeeping specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Auburn University, and retired professor of entomology with The Ohio State University.

To Join this free webinar, follow the link and LOG IN AS A GUEST at about 8:55AM EDT/ 5:55AM PDT:

go.osu.edu/theOSUbuzz
To access via iPad or iPhone, download the Adobe Connect app.

This and each monthly webinar will be recorded and archived on the OSU Bee Lab website the day of the session. 

Not All Bees Are Created Equal

Swarm Season - Be Aware! Not all bees are friendly bees. DO NOT attempt to remove a swarm yourself. Call a Beekeeper. There are a number of experienced local LACBA members who have been caring for bees and removing swarms for many years. If the bees can be saved, our beekeepers will know how. See the list of local beekeepers on our LACBA Swarm Page

We'd like to thank Derek Roach of Pro Pacific Bee Removal for the following information & Graphic.

"It’s been more than a decade that Southern California has been an identified as an Africanized Honey Bee territory. In August of 2002, biologists tested the genetic makeup of local bees from two swarms found in Santa Barbara County to determine Africanized bees were present in the region. The population of this type of bee has continued to grow in Southern California counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino) and their aggressive behavior has contributed to the persistent injurious attacks each year.

Pets are not exempt from the stings, last year in Ventura County a dozen dogs and several nearby workers at a pet boarding center were stung by an Africanized colony. Three of those twelve dogs were hospitalized in critical condition. Fortunately, none of the workers needed medical treatment for their stings. [LACBA Note: A vew days ago in North Hollywood a puppy was killed in an extremely painful manner by a swarm of bees when their hive was destroyed by tree trimmers."]

Replacing an aggressive, Africanized queen with a more docile, European queen, also known as requeening, has proven to be an effective beekeeping technique in restoring calmer behavior within the colony. Other beekeepers take zero risk of raising an Africanized colony and kill off entire hives that express hostile behavior.

To understand more about the migration and behavior of the Africanized bee in the United States, an informational graphic by Pro Pacific Bee Removal  is provided below."

Pro Pacific Bee Removal - Africanized Honeybee Facts

 

Delta Flight Delayed by Massive Swarm of Bees

Huffington Post 8/3/12

 

IMPERIAL, Pa. -- A beekeeper says he had to be called into gather up a swarm of thousands of bees that delayed a Delta Air Lines flight from Pittsburgh International Airport to New York.

Repasky says such swarms form when colonies become too large and the queen leaves half of her bees behind to find a new home. Some swarms can contain 25,000 to 30,000 bees.

Repasky says it's likely there's a wild honeybee colony at the airport somewhere.

The beekeeper was called to remove the insects because they're a protected species that cannot legally be killed.

Beekeeper: We Need Bees, Don't Spray Them

KKTV.com (Colorado) Article and Video on Swarms  June 1, 2012

(This excellent article and video on bee removal is from Colorado. Please note: bees in Southern California may be more agressive (Africanized) bees but the information is still relevant. For bee removals here in Los Angeles County see our Swarm Removal page on this website.) 

Many people say they would run away, or pick up a can of pesticide if they saw a swarm of bees.

But beekeepers are asking you to let them be, and give them a call before you spray.

They say the bees are important for the survival of the bee population and in turn keep food on our tables.

This time of year is when we start seeing more swarms of bees collecting around houses, businesses, or on fences. Read more and view video...