Subject: Bees – and behavior?
Location: Morgantown, WV
January 13, 2013 10:48 am
We are having a January thaw in W. Virginia and I’ve had an invasion of what I think are honeybees – they’ve been excavating my birdfeeder. I was wondering if you could tell me what exactly they are doing and if I need to do anything about them? They have already kicked out about half of the bird seed and show no sign of stopping. I’m not terribly worried given that the weather is supposed to change again tomorrow. But I am very curious!
Signature: Bugwatcher Guitry
Dear Bugwatcher Guitry,
Probably the person most qualified to answer your questions would be a local bee keeper, but we will try to speculate. These are definitely Honey Bees. This odd behavior is definitely linked to the unseasonably warm weather. Perhaps it triggered a swarming activity and these workers are searching for a new location for a hive. They are certainly not eating the bird seeds, but they might be emptying the feeder in a futile effort to create a new hive. Alas, they will most likely perish when the weather changes. We wonder if there are any other examples of this occurring right now.
Thank you so much for your reply and speculation. The bees emptied the entire feeder – and then left. Sadly I suspect they will perish if not tonight then very soon. It was about 68°F here yesterday. Now we are at the high temperature for the day at 43°. Watching them over the weekend was quite fascinating. My neighbor, who lives about a quarter of a mile away does keep bees. I will have to ask him – perhaps they were some of his bees.
As always – I cannot thank you enough for your wonderful website. Thank you for your time and insights.
Let us know if your beekeeper neighbor has a theory.