Vis­ual trea­sures

A swarm of bees forms a new colony

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

If you dis­cover a swarm of bees, you’re wit­ness­ing the for­ma­tion of a new hon­ey­bee colony. The queen bee, hav­ing laid new queen eggs, leaves her colony or hive, tak­ing about half of the worker bees with her to start a new one. On find­ing a swarm, you should con­tact your lo­cal bee­keeper as the swarm could move off at any time. In early sum­mer, they are par­tic­u­larly valu­able as the bees have more time to build up the colony prior to win­ter, hence the old say­ing: A swarm in May’s worth a load of hay; And a swarm in June’s worth a sil­ver spoon; A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly. Man’s as­so­ci­a­tion with hon­ey­bees stretches back into the mists of time. Aris­to­tle wrote glow­ingly about them and Pliny de­scribed honey as the ‘sweat of heaven’. Their role as pol­li­na­tors is cru­cial to life and the ex­pres­sions ‘to be the bees’ knees’, ‘as busy as a bee’ and ‘to make a bee­line’ show our ad­mi­ra­tion for these in­sects—there is, how­ever, a sting in the tail, as any­one with a bee in their bon­net will know. MH

Phoro­graph by Paul Hob­son/ Na­

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