I’ve just started keeping bees this year. I’ve learned quite a bit in my studies leading up to my first hive. But I’ve only had my bees now for 2 weeks. It’s amazing to observe their behavior and learn about how a hive operates.
The most recent epiphany in my study of bees comes in relation to a bee swarm.
To begin with, most people freak out at the idea of seeing a giant ball of bees on a tree. It turns out that bees in a swarm are very docile. They don’t have a home to protect. They are huddled around the queen waiting for the scouts to report back that they’ve found a new home.
As part of this swarming and leaving their home and safety they take as much food with them as they can, so they fill their bellies with honey from the old hive. When a bee has a full belly, it makes it very hard for them to sting, because they can’t bend their abdomens. So a bee with a full belly is much less likely to sting you.
But the thing that amazed me most about bees is the story behind the swarm.
When a hive starts to get crowded and there isn’t enough space for all the bees to keep growing and thrive, the queen bee in collaboration with the workers, starts growing a new queen. When the new queen is about to hatch, the existing queen takes about half the bees with her and leaves the hive in search of a new home.
The old queen doesn’t know if their search will succeed, she doesn’t know where they will end up. She’s leaving her home and her honey stores behind for the new queen and the remainder of the hive.
This is equivalent to your parents leaving their house and possessions to you when you graduate college. Then picture your parents heading off to find a new home and start over. Can you imagine?
So when you see a bee swarm, remember the sacrifice this represents. Giving up their home, their safety and risking everything for the benefit of their family.