[LEPS-L:7893] Re: An encounter with honeybees

Kelly Richers kerichers at wasco.k12.ca.us
Thu Nov 16 16:31:50 EST 2000

I do not know where you live nor the time of season where you live, but I recall seeing similar happennings on the eucalyptus trees at a golf course many years ago (10 at least) in the central valley of California.  I saw two in one spring and haven't seen it since, nor was I as close as you were so I cannot speak for what structure may have been underneath.  In the cases here, however, the bees were swarming around a narrow branch and also left after about 6 hours on top of each other. 

>>> <pad_murali at my-deja.com> 11/16/00 09:58AM >>>
There was a strange phenomenon involving honeybees that happened in our
house the other day.

I live in India in a mid-sized city on the fourth floor apartment in a
housing colony in a reasonably urban neighbourhood. Vegetation is
sparse and limited to a few trees amongst buildings.

Myself and my wife are usually away in the daytime and the house stays
empty. There is a balcony in the bedroom that looks out onto a roadway.
The balcony is separated from the bedroom by large glass doors upto 7
ft long. The balcony is enclosed by steel grill work. The grill
framework protrudes out slightly with a sheetmetal roof on top and on
the bottom were kept, a line of potted plants (typical indoor plants).

One day at 6 o'clock I return from work, go to my bedroom, look out to
the balcony and to my astonishment find a huge colony of bees, about 4
feet wide and 1/2 to 1 ft by ht. hanging from the metal roof and partly
on the grill. I was shocked for sometime as there was not a single bee
seen in the morning. This was our regular bedroom and any abnormal
activity could not have escaped our attention in the morning. Myself
and my wife strained as much of our memory as we could to recollect and
we didnt remember anything abnormal. What this meant was that, the
whole thing came up in under 8 hours.

The surface of whatever it was, was completely filled with thousands of
bees and I could not see what was underneath. I presumed it must be one
of their hives under construction as it was also quite thick (about 1/2
a foot). Night set in and the activity around the structure became
silent. Initially we had decided to sleep in another room, but seeing
the absence of activity and resting our confidence on the 3mm glass
separating us and the thousands of bees we went to sleep ( a distance
of 8 feet separating us from the bees!).

Next day morning the structure was intact with many bees hovering
around furiously. We had planned for fumigating our house that day (
which was planned much earlier), which basically consists of spraying
the entire house with pesticide. This took place from 9 to 9:30 am. The
workmen were not prepared for this bee phenomenon. So they did not
venture to open the balcony door and did their job only in the bedroom.
They decided to come prepared in the evening to clear the hive. My wife
duly left the house at 10:00 am.

At 3 pm she returned. To her astonishment the colony of bees had
vanished without a trace! I came home at 6 and was staring at the spot
for 15 minutes in disbelief ! The only remains were white spots on the
roof, which were probably bee droppings.

As was obvious the immediate theory that comes to mind was that the
bees left upon sensing the pesticide. Is it right?

What continues to puzzle me however, is,what was that goddamn huge
structure? Were they all bees one over the other ? I realised then,
that the previous day, I had not seen any structure or a beehive
beneath.If so what it means is that, the weight of all the bees was
held by the topmost layer of bees? Is it possible?
What about the bees in the middle, surrounded by layers of their own
kin? Can that be ?

Is this a commonly observed phenomenon ? where millions of bees make
one night stops at some place piling one over the other(or rather
hanging one from the other) ?

The following day morning there was some activity again as some bees
were hovering around the area.
With priorities more important than simple interest in bee activity, we
had to take measures to clear them. Which we did by spraying pesticide
on them. After a couple of days they stopped coming.

We were finally rid of the bee menace, but not those strange thoughts
which continue to stay in our mind.

Can somebody throw light on this strange (at least to me!) phenomenon?

Pad Murali.

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