A Swarm of Excitement at the Bayer Bee Care Center

Monday, May 9, 2016
By: Dick Rogers, Principal Scientist/Entomologist of Bee Health and Integrated Apiculture Research
Group of honey bees pollinating yellow flower

Ever since opening in April of 2014, the North American Bee Care Center has hosted thousands of guests, from researchers to students to dignitaries. Earlier this month, however, we had guests of a different sort – a swarm of local honey bees that took up residence in one of our own hive bodies!

Why Do Bees Swarm?

Swarming occurs when a honey bee colony has become too large for its current home. The queen and thousands of worker bees split off from the established colony to form a new colony in another location. As they’re on the move, the worker bees cluster around the queen at rest stops along the way while scout bees search for their new home. One lucky tour group at the Bee Care Center witnessed this cloud of bees moving about outside before they finally settled into one of the extra hives onsite.

“The swarm was a special treat for our visitors to see and a welcome sign of spring!” said Sarah Myers, education/outreach lead and beekeeper at the Bayer Bee Care Center. “It was nice to witness our apiary as a chosen home for this new colony.”

Swarm of honey bees at Bayer NA Bee Care Center

Bees Mark Their Territory with Chemical Signal

And they made themselves right at home! Many of the bees moved inside while another group of worker bees laid claim to their new home and marked their territory by releasing a distinct chemical signal left at the hives’ entrance called a “pheromone.” Bees use these odors to find their way back to their respective hives after foraging.

Bayer's Research Apiary in Research Triangle Park, NC

For years, we’ve maintained a research apiary on our campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to better understand the issues surrounding bee health and to establish sustainable, tangible solutions to the challenges that honey bees face today. A quick inspection of these other hives in our apiary showed this swarm was indeed not one of our own but rather a new neighbor for our colonies!

For nearly 30 years, Bayer has worked to find solutions to bee health challenges through research, stewardship and community outreach. Bayer cares about bees, and clearly this new hive that has taken up residence at our Bee Care Center digs Bayer, too!


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