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Archive for Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Swarm takes up residence outside of KU museum

About 3,000 bees harmless - unless someone messes with them

July 18, 2007

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A massive colony of honey bees estimated at a couple thousand swarm on a tree along Jayhawk Boulevard at Kansas University on Tuesday.  This colony of bees branched off from the main hive of honey bees located inside the Natural History Museum.  Entomologists believe the hive increased in size, causing a split in the hive on Tuesday.

A massive colony of honey bees estimated at a couple thousand swarm on a tree along Jayhawk Boulevard at Kansas University on Tuesday. This colony of bees branched off from the main hive of honey bees located inside the Natural History Museum. Entomologists believe the hive increased in size, causing a split in the hive on Tuesday.

KU's campus a buzz from thousands of bees

Things are a buzz on campus today as several thousands bees take up residence in a tree outside of KU's Natural History Museum. Enlarge video

A swarm of bees created a buzz Tuesday afternoon on Kansas University's campus.

An estimated 3,000 bees left the hive that is part of an exhibit on the sixth floor of the Natural History Museum.

Bees can come and go through a tube at the museum, but seldom leave in such a large group. The last time it happened was 14 months ago, said Jen Humphrey, communications director for the museum.

She said there were about 1,000 bees left in the museum's artificial tree after the others left in search of a new home.

Danny Najera, a Kansas University graduate who studies bee cognition, said the move was part of the bees' reproduction process. When a hive reaches a certain size, the queen bee will leave along with other bees in search of a new location. Meanwhile, the bees left behind will produce a new queen bee. He said the swarm that left was smaller than most, which can contain up to 10,000 bees.

Najera said the bees don't stray from their queen.

"They stick together based on chemical cues," he said. "The queen emits a fair amount and the bees swarm around it. It kind of looks like a comet of bees and right in the middle, sort of the epicenter, would be the queen and the bees just tag along and stay around the chemical."

The swarm temporarily located in a small tree in front of the museum along Jayhawk Boulevard, where the bees were at eye level to passersby.

Najera and a couple of other KU graduate students tried to lure the bees into a box by lacing it with a substance that would attract them. The plan was to transport them to KU's West Campus, where there are an estimated 17 hives. Those hives have between 20,000 and 100,000 bees, Najera said.

But the plan didn't work. The bees decided to move to the top northeastern corner of the seven-story museum where they seemed to have settled in.

Najera said the bees were harmless to the building and humans, unless anyone messed with them.

"When they are in a swarm like that, they are completely unmotivated to sting," he said.

Humphrey said the museum was proud of its live bee exhibit, especially with national concerns about the declining bee population.

"That's one of the reasons we are really happy that we have a live bee exhibit here," she said, "because it gives us a chance to learn more about them and share them with the public, and when they fly off like that, it's another opportunity to learn a little bit more."

Comments

Ragingbear 6 years, 9 months ago

Has anyone noticed the price of honey lately? I saw one of those bear shaped honey things (6 oz.) was selling for $3.97.

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kmat 6 years, 9 months ago

They've started to find out that the problem with disappearing bees all over the country is due to new pesticides being used on farms. Everyone should pay attention to this. If the bees die, so does mankind. They are the main polinators of our crops. Einstein warned about this decades ago. Man is too stupid, thinking they are the only important species, and don't care what happens to the bees. They will care if they all die off because we are so dependent on chemicals.

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spywell 6 years, 9 months ago

Maby, the problem with the bee's dissaperance is the fact that too many queens are seporating the hive and then dieing off to soon. This problem may be in there genes. Weak queens or too many queens that are weak. New compounds in there honey perhaps. Maby not posin but alerg. reactions to new compounds weaken there genes.

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JJE007 6 years, 9 months ago

I've seen both honey bees and bumble bees in our clovered and milkweedy yard. Common milkweed flowers attract a plethora of pollinators.

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hskrbkr 6 years, 9 months ago

We've had lots of bumble bees in our garden.

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gr 6 years, 9 months ago

"rather than the invasive honeybee."

I like it! 'Save the honeybees. Stop global warming.'

And it's an introduced species.

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Ragingbear 6 years, 9 months ago

If the queen dies during a swarm then most of the remaining bees will die. There is a small chance that some will be able to join other hives, but with the smell of a different queen on them, they will probably be killed quickly.

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Linda Endicott 6 years, 9 months ago

Plenty of wasps, but I haven't seen any honeybees or bumblebees this year so far...

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LittleMissFlea 6 years, 9 months ago

I haven't seen any bees in my garden since about March, and that was just one lone bee, honey or bumble. We've taken to pollinating things with a brush.

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Das_Ubermime 6 years, 9 months ago

Whether or not your tomatoes get pollinated has little to do with honeybees. The most common pollinators of tomato flowers are the native species of bees (such as the bumble bee in NA) rather than the invasive honeybee.

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Christian Hinton 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm with TS20twenty...I think that they probably misquoted "pheremone," though it still makes sense as it is now, so I could be wrong.

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LittleMissFlea 6 years, 9 months ago

I've had butterflies, but I don't think my tomatoes are getting pollinated. We've had pretty flowers, but no fruit. And maybe I need to stop wearing headphones, because I walk by the museum every day and haven't noticed the bees.

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gr 6 years, 9 months ago

"Meanwhile, the bees left behind will produce a new queen bee. "

Ummm, no. At least not from what I've read and been told. The hive has already produced new queen(s) and that is why the old one is leaving. No room for two queens in the same house! Which is really unusual for an exhibit to allow new queens to be made. I mean, aren't they watching out for those things? The new queens are made in a larger and quite apparent cell and they should have removed it to preserve the swarm.

"The bees decided to move to the top northeastern corner of the seven-story museum " You mean inside the building or roof!!!

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TS20twenty 6 years, 9 months ago

"fair amount" or "pheromone" ... was this a misquote?

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TheHeartlessBureaucrat 6 years, 9 months ago

I had a sage bush out in front of my home for a few years and the bees seemed to really enjoy it. Plus, they smell good. (the bush...not the bees)

THB

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greyfeld 6 years, 9 months ago

The story mentions the concerns that a lot of hives around the world have been lost over the past year. I haven't seen a single bee in my garden this year. We have a huge patch of lavender that last year was constantly swarming with bees. This year there are none, only butterflys. Has anyone else in Lawrence experienced this?

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maxcrabb 6 years, 9 months ago

They just make a new one.

Anyone seen the "Inanimate object/space" Simpsons episode? no?

never mind.

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spywell 6 years, 9 months ago

If the queen dies during this transfer, where will the swarm go?

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Ragingbear 6 years, 9 months ago

Bees while swarming don't have anything to protect, except the Queen. You can usually handle them with little trouble. That goes for even African(killer) bees.

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