More on “Spring Swarm”

Earlier today, I heard a wonderful NPR story by Robert Krulwich that provides a more extended and experimental discussion of bee swarming behavior that I blogged on a few weeks ago.

His story is called “Nature’s Secret: Why Honey Bees are Better Politicians than Humans.”  It’s only 7 minutes in length and really provides interesting insight on this beehavior.

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.