A few days ago my sister Vickie stopped by to visit and feed the chickens a treat of dry bread. While we were talking she asked me, “why didn’t you tell me you had a bee’s nest near your driveway?” I answered that I didn’t know what she was talking about.
It turned out that earlier in the summer a honeybee swarm had settled into a brushy area near my driveway. Instead of looking for a hollow tree or abandoned shed, they must have felt that they were adequately protected from elements and started to build honey combs right out in the open. I hadn’t seen the hive because the undergrowth was too thick, it wasn’t until the leaves started falling that the bees became visible. Honeybees will do this from time to time.
When bees do this, they use their own bodies as a wall to protect the Queen bee and her brood inside the nest. This means that fewer worker bees are available to forage for nectar and pollen because they are preoccupied with keeping the hive warm and protected. Fewer foragers means less honey and that equals less food available to the hive for use during the winter. In our area, a hive like this would be unable to survive the winter without shelter.
Not wanting to see them die a sure death, I decided to help them endure the upcoming winter by placing them into a beehive body made from a standard size wooden box used to keep bees. I’m feeding them sugar syrup to supplement the Goldenrod and Aster nectar they are collecting.
This was not a very large cluster of bees as far as bee hives go. So they may not survive the winter anyway but at least I gave them a better chance than they would have otherwise.
Feral bees like these play an important part in the world of beekeeping. Since they are survivors they have the potential to carry important genetic traits that may make them resistant to the many diseases and parasites that plague bees.
I have more photos of the colony and moving the bees posted on line at my other site.