The Backyard Hums

A few times I have opened the back door to hear the loud swoosh of a heron, interrupted in his koi fishing, spreading his wings and rising from the pond.  Unless there is rain, there is always birdsong, the soft hammering of woodpeckers, the splash of a frog diving for cover and the sucking and splashing of the koi in the ponds.  And in the summer there is the cicada's song and there is also a very faint hum and buzz of the bees leaving and returning to their hives.  On this particular day last spring, the hum and the buzz of the bees would have been heard by the  lovely lady that lives there, had she been out.  But by the time I ran back inside to get my camera and call my dad for help the swarm had clustered on a bush nearby, calming, quietening and carefully protecting their queen in the center.  

When a hive becomes to cramped the queen and many of the worker bees prepare to swarm, leave for a new home.  The queen lays queen larvae, in queen cups the workers have made, in preparation for her departure, thus assuring that the bees left behind will be able to rebuild the hive.  Just before a new queen emerges from her cell, scout bees leave to find an intermediate resting place for the swarm.  The worker bees take honey from the hive so they will have food once they reach their new home.

Luckily this swarm found an intermediate home in a low bush in our backyard.  Often they fly high and for a few blocks, becoming harder to retrieve.  Swarms are gentle and rarely sting.  The workers are laden with honey for their new home.  They are intent on protecting the queen and the scouts are busy looking for a permanent home.  The honey is not visible in the bees but if you look closely you can see pollen in the sacs of a few. We carefully clipped the branches holding the hive and lowered them into new boxes with frames of comb ready for them to fill with honey.