Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Bees

Imagine my surprise yesterday when a friend called to tell me about a colony of honey bees that was attached to a large live oak tree on Ocracoke.


















When a colony starts to feel crowded, which usually happens in the springtime as the queen lays more eggs and the number of workers increases, the colony will prepare to swarm...which is their way of reproducing.  The workers make new queens and when they are about to hatch, the old queen leaves to start a new colony elsewhere.


















Typically about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive with the old queen. This particular colony appears to contain about twenty-five-thousand bees, and is estimated to have been in this location for several months.


















Luckily we have a friend who is a dedicated and competent beekeeper. She says the colony will not be able to survive a cold winter, and she has offered to use a bee vacuum (with just the right amount of suction to collect the bees alive) to capture the bees in a hive body. They will then be transported to a new, protected hive.

According to https://beespotter.org, "It is estimated that in North America around 30% of the food humans consume is produced from bee pollinated plant life. The value of pollination by bees is estimated around $16 billion in the US alone."

It is only fairly recently that these endlessly fascinating honeybees have taken up residence on Ocracoke. I wondered why the island was without honey bees for so long, and was told they will not fly over large bodies of water.

Our latest Ocracoke Newletter is the story of Augustus Cabarrus, early inlet pilot, and the present day d'Oelsnitz family. Click here to read the Newsletter: Ocracoke...The French Connection.  

8 comments:

  1. Julie S.7:32 AM

    Will the beekeeper keep the hive on the island? I have always wanted to know if Ocracoke could sustain bees despite the mosquito spraying and wonder if your beekeeper friend has thoughts in this. Thanks and have a lovely day!!

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    1. There are at least two bee keepers on the island now, and I understand their hives are thriving. This current colony may be presented to another islander interested in bee keeping. Look for more information when the colony is moved (probably in several weeks).

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  2. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Is the Farmer's Almanac predicting a long cold snowy winter for OI?

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  3. Here in the Rodanthe/Salvo area, I know of at least 3 different beekeepers working hives. They are evidently thriving as well. They also request the mosquito spraying truck to bypass them which he does. I have never seen a hive like the one in the live oak. Another fascinating post Phillip. Thanks.

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    1. Beaver Tillet, our local mosquito control driver, mentioned to me the other day in casual conversation, that he turns off the sprayer if he sees folks eating outdoors. He is very considerate, and I am sure he would bypass bees if requested to do so.

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    2. Anonymous8:09 PM

      We vacationed on the island in mid-July and were surprised by the lack of mosquitoes wherever we went, though the no-see-ums took their "pound of flesh." This was our first time over many visits and many years encountering those little critters. Any insight into their...prevalence this time, or might we best just chalk this up to the variability/cyclical nature of such life as we've encountered it on the island?

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    3. No-see-ums?? I would do as you suggest...just chalk it up to the variability/cyclical nature of such life. I don't have a better explanation.

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    4. Anonymous6:02 PM

      Here's the Wikipedia link to no-see-ums, aka midges or sand flies (perhaps you know them by those names). In any case, they're biters, but less voracious/tenacious than the O'coke skeeters we've encountered over the years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratopogonidae

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