Spring Swarm

An Animal Behavior Challenge!

Earlier this week, Jim, a previous neighbor of mine, called to inform me of an interesting “natural event” that was taking place in a shrub next to his driveway. 

Here is a video of that event up close.  He had been out performing yard work in the past days and was sure that these bees had shown up over a short period of time.

I an effort to find out what exactly was happening and what he could do, Jim called his mother, who called her neighbor (who happened to be a master gardener), who then contacted Jarrett Mullenbruch (pictured below) who happens to be a sculpter with an interest in ecology, and who is currently working on an installation that integrates live bees. 

Once Jarrett arrived, he proceeded to talk to us about his Deep Ecology Project and then collected the bees for his installation.   To view a pdf slideshow of the images that I took, click on the image above.  You can view a collection of videos documenting the collection of the bees below.

Thanks for letting me in on the experience Jarrett and Jim!

Now for the Behavioral Challenge…

  1. How many bees would you estimate are in this swarm?
  2. Can you explain why the bees are engaged in this behavior in the first place? 
  3. Why is a bee hanging around the container full of bees in the third video?

I imagine that students could generate numerous questions that would stimulate quality discussions of this interesting animal behavior…

Providing some interesting links to resources or websites that could help students uncover the details of this natural event would be welcome as well.

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Author: Eric Kessler

I am a high school biology teacher at Blue Valley North High School where I have taught freshman Biology and Honors Biology, Field Biology, Zoology, and AP Biology for the past 15 years. I am sponsor of the Environmental Club and our molecular modeling S.M.A.R.T. Team program. I am also the current treasurer of the Kansas Herpetological Society. Although I like most things biological, I have specific interests in the natural history of KS endemics (the outdoors) and things molecular. I am a pretty avid reader, I enjoy maintaining my website, and taking photographs. I plan on having students blogging and creating podcasts by the end of the year.

4 thoughts on “Spring Swarm”

  1. Interestingly enough, there have been another 2 swarms on that same previous neighbors property. These other times another person came to do the collecting and didn’t wear anything special. I wasn’t there but was told this by Jim. In these instances too the collection wasn’t done with a swat or two but by collecting them onto a frame. At one point, I was told that the collector put his hands in amongst the bees to look for the queen.

    My neighbor brush his hand along them the third time. So, if I get the chance maybe I’ll see what it is like too.

  2. Good stuff Eric. I haven’t watched the video but I assume there’s a shot of you holding your bare hand in the middle of the swarm. 😉

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