Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Recent bee swarms

Users of Kingston Hill campus will be aware of the recent bee swarms that have occurred on the campus. One large swarm and 2 small ‘caste’ swarms (after effects of the first swarm) were found on the terrace over the last 2 weeks or so.

Here are some FAQ's for anybody interested (or concerned!) about the swarms:

Q – Why are our bees swarming?
A – Our bees are not swarming! Our two colonies of honey bees are all at home in their hives, so please be assured that the swarms are not as a result of our bee hives.
We have taken the proper measures to ensure that our colonies do not swarm – by artificially tricking the bees into thinking that they’ve swarmed by splitting the colony in two.

Q – So where has this recent swarm come from?
A – There are many amateur and professional beekeepers in the area who will have hives in their gardens, on roofs and in apiaries. These swarms will have come from a nearby hive.

Q – Why are bees swarming now?
A – The recent weather conditions have meant that honey bees have been cooped up in their hives as they won’t leave if the conditions are too cold or rainy. This has meant that they have taken the first opportunity offered to them to leave their hives and swarm.

Q – Why do bees swarm?
A – Honey bee colonies are a ‘superorganism’ – although they are made up of many individuals, lone bees cannot survive on their own and so all bees work together for the good of their colony.
The method of colony reproduction in the wild happens through swarming. Bees will swarm when a new queen bee is made by the colony and emerges from her cell. The old queen will leave the hive with around 60% of the worker bees, and look for a new home.

Q – Are swarms dangerous?
A – In general honey bee swarms are not dangerous, as long as they are not unduly provoked. The aim of a bee swarm is to find a new home. Because the colony is not protecting larvae or honey, it is not aggressive.

Q – What should I do if I find a bee swarm?
If you find a swarm of honey bees in your garden at home, you should call your local swarm collector who will remove the bees for you - http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/find_a_swarm_coordinator.php.
If you spot a bee swarm on any of our campuses you should contact security, who are aware of our swarm procedure.

Q – Where can I find more information?
Lots of great info on the Kingston Beekeepers Association website: http://www.kingstonbeekeepers.org.uk/faqs#are_bees_dangerous

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