June 25, 2020
It seems that Camp Champions is even more popular than we thought.
In addition to our wonderful campers and amazing counselors, we have some additional visitors arrive two days ago: a small hive of honey bees.
Before I go further to talk about our guests, I should share some of the knowledge I have acquired this summer about bees.
I knew that their population is declining and that they are essential to agriculture. I know that they are rarely aggressive. But I did not know how they made new hives.
It turns out that when a new queen establishes herself in a hive, the old queen and about half of the worker bees leave and form a homeless swarm. Some of the worker bees become “scouts” and canvas the area for potential new homes. This process starts before the swarm leaves (I assume while they are packing).
Anyway, the scouts will report different locations and the swarm will go there to see if it works. [Note: I have seen the videos of the “dance” that a worker bee does to communicate a location. I understand that. But how do the bees decide which scout to follow? Does he have a little extra shake in his caboose? How does a bee advocate for his preferred location? I apologize if this mystery keeps you up tonight.]
On Tuesday, we realized that a swarm had found a spot where we have a water valve in a hole that is covered by a piece of wood. When we lifted the wood to turn the valve, there were several hundred (even a thousand) new friends. We calmly, but promptly, put the wood back down.
We roped off the area to keep campers away and then called “Kinfolk Honey”, some of our friends who are bee cultivators.
They helped us start our own colony (about half a mile from camp – nowhere near any campers) and they are always happy to help bees. They came out, smoked out our friends and left a hive box for them to locate to.
So our guests have left and they have a new home. No bees were hurt in this tale.
We are thrilled to help find a home for our pollenating pals!
PS I was a little close to our bee expert, but I was holding my breath!
PPS The photo has nothing to do with this blog, but I thought it was adorable, so I threw it in!