Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Bee Swarm

Some of Lettuce Link's interns and volunteers will be guest blogging for us over the next few months. Today, we welcome the words of Molly Bell, a UW student and Lettuce Link spring intern.

At Marra Farm we recently witnessed an unusual and exciting event: an enormous swarm of bees migrated from the hive to a nearby tree branch!

David, the bee caretaker, quickly came over to the farm. He estimated that the swarm had 1200 to 1500 bees!

The bees swarmed in order to search for a new hive. Most of the swarm waited on the tree branch, while a few bees flew around and searched for the perfect new home. Lucky for us, the bees were very mellow, so we could stand nearby and watch all the action.

To keep the bees from relocating their colony outside of Marra Farm, David had to collect the swarm and move them from the tree branch back into a hive box.

He cut off the branch the bees were swarming on, and gently tapped the branch until the entire clump of bees fell into a hive box.

We watched intently, but also a little nervously. David had warned that despite their mellow mood, we should be prepared to quickly move away if necessary. In the end, no one was stung and the bees were collected safely in the box.

This was an exciting event to witness for the volunteers, but a stressful one for David. If he had waited too long after the swarm to come to Marra Farm, he could have lost the entire bee colony!

Bees are essential for pollination - we would not be able to enjoy many of our favorite fruits, vegetables, and nuts without them. Unfortunately, bee colonies have been declining in number across the country in recent years.

One reason for this decline is the widespread use of pesticides. The chemicals can cause neurological damage in bees, making them confused and unable to find their way home to the hive. This is one of the many reasons why we practice organic growing methods at Marra Farm.

We’re glad David helped the bees return to the hive at Marra Farms so they can stay busy pollinating our crops all season!

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