Ranch Bees

Time of Transition:

Here at Bishops Ranch, we had lost our hive and were hoping for another when we saw a cloud of bees on campus and saw them clumping. We put a swarm box out sprayed with pheromones and they accepted our invitation. Our 20,000+ new neighbors have been transferred into a more permanent hive box and we will benefit from their active pollination of our many flowering plants and fruit trees. We provide a safe and welcoming place for them to reside and flourish and they contribute to the sustainability and productivity of our space. Hmmm, sounds like a retreat center for all.

As the days warm up and buds burst here at The Bishops Ranch, a fairly dormant and smaller hive unbeknown to us begins to forage. The queen bee begins to lay eggs and within weeks the hive can grow from 20,000 to 50,000 bees.

The honeybee colony is a super-organism with bees efficiently doing a huge variety of jobs and communicating through pheromones (chemicals) that are passed around the colony by sharing food with one another. The queen has her own pheromone that attracts the bees to her and encourages them to build the comb, forage, and tend the brood.

There comes a point when the crowd is so great, that not all of the workers have access to the queen. They are no longer receiving her pheromone signals, and so for them, she is non-existent! No queen, no longevity of the hive, so this induces the workers to create a new queen. There is no space in the colony for more than one queen.

Before the new queen emerges, the old queen takes off with thousands of the colony to establish a new hive. This swirling mass of bees is called a swarm. Sometimes you may see them in motion, like a tornado; at other times they will be resting in a teardrop-shaped clump or mass. Scout bees are out looking for a new nest site and this can be a very vulnerable time for these voyageurs. Click the link to see a video of the swarm. Ranch bee video

Information for this article was gleaned from: https://www.buzzaboutbees.net/honey-bee-life-cycle.html

Written by,

Julie Miller

Guest Services Associate

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