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Swarm

19 July 2006 by Karen

Just when I’d said this was a slow news week this story appears. We have a resident colony of honey bees on the roof of World Museum Liverpool which seem to have fancied a change of scenery. I’ll leave Paul Finnegan, the Bug House Team leader at World Museum Liverpool, to explain:

“A member of staff reported a large swarm of bees in a cherry tree just outside the Museum entrance. I went down to inspect it and there was a swarm containing around 12,000 bees. Honey bees swarm in July and it’s the bees way of reproducing. The original queen produces a new or several new queens to take over the hive. The original queen then leaves the hive followed by half of the worker bees. When the queen settles all the workers which followed her cluster around her and rest in a nearby tree or other upright object such as a lamp post and then after a couple of days find a suitable nest site to begin a new colony (usually a few miles away).

Because the bees which swarmed are ours, we are responsible for them and have to gather the swarm into a container to protect the public. After putting my bee-keeping suit on and getting a ladder and a cardboard box I climbed up the ladder and attempted to knock the swarm into the cardboard box. This was awkward as there were too many branches in the way and I couldn’t seem to get the queen. By this time a crowd had gathered, fascinated by such a sight. I then fetched a saw and sawed off the branch that the bees had gathered onto. I then climbed down the tree, clutching the bee covered branch and placed it into a box. All of the remaining bees attracted to the queen in the box then followed her, and when most of the bees were in I closed the lid. Job done – swarm collected and the public safe. I then contacted a local bee keeper who then met me and took the bees off our hands (the bees we keep are Hawaiian Honey Bees as all of the English Honey Bees are now extinct due to a nasty disease which is spread by the Asian Varroa mite).”

More information on the bug house, including how to attract bees to your garden (although maybe not 12,000), can be found on the main site.

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