Recently I have become aware of a behavior that bees are displaying around my swarm traps. I missed it before because I had been putting traps inside woods or along wood-lines never knowing exactly when they were occupied. Due to the fact that gas is expensive and I have 30 traps out, this year I have been placing many traps in people’s yards. Along with making some friends and acquaintances
more interested in bees, I have received FREE trap monitoring. Also it is becoming more and more apparent that in my area, a trap in someones sparsely treed lawn with open fields all around is very productive. Those traps seem to be getting hit more this year than my “in the woods” boxes. This is patterning as referred to in Looking for Spots. When you observe a productive pattern….. REPEAT!
Several times this spring I have gotten calls from excited trap hosts, “The BEES ARE HERE!!!!” After three of such calls, when I was free, and the trap was close I went to observe and visit with my neighbors. On all three occasions I was able to witness something I had not seen last year. I have been present when swarms have hit traps at my house, and this was different.
On previously witnessed hits enough bees converged on the trap to cover a lot of surface of the trap. There were bees sufficient enough to be hanging off of the front and bottom of the trap in a clump. Then they would then begin to flow into the trap hole in a semi-orderly fashion. Also there had been very little traffic exiting the trap, a MAJOR difference from this other behavior.
What I have seen this year is smaller groups of bees perhaps only several hundred. The activity on the front of the trap was different as well. There were bees coming AND going, buzzing loudly and walking around in circles and figure eights on the outside surfaces of the trap. Both arriving and departing traffic appeared to be coming from the same general direction. I don’t know if the activity on the trap should be interpreted as excitement or agitation, but it was not the calm orderly procession I had been accustomed to.
Some bees ended up staying the night in the trap. Then on all three occasions I received another phone call within one to two days. “There are even more bees here now!!!” I was able to return to one of the traps. At that time I witnessed something more similar to what I have been accustomed to. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me that day.
So what does it mean? I don’t know yet. I assume that these are large numbers of scouts. I do not know if this “pre-swarm” telegraphs the arrival of the main swarm in every instance? Perhaps I just missed it before. I wonder if there are several locations where this display is occurring while the group determines where they want to relocate.
I have not yet been able to find the location where the bees are coming from and or going to while this is going on. The next time I get one of these calls I will try to track them down. If anything this should be a warning to anyone wanting to begin swarm trapping. Wait until you have bees carrying pollen before you mess with a trap you suspect is occupied.
What do you think? If you have an idea let me know in the comments section.