Free Living

These are the beer-bees. They live in the brick walls of a brewery and make for a good conversation.

What I often hear is this: "They will not survive for long. Two to three years at most. You should focus your efforts on preserving solitary and bumble bees." This is rather curious since both solitary and bumble bees are certain to die after their very first winter – and nobody would hold that against them. So what is the issue here?

A honey bee colony is an individual animal, a so-called superorganism. And like virtually every other animal out there, it has a limited lifespan. The thing is, a species does not survive because its individual animals survive – they don't. A species survives because its individual animals reproduce. For what it's worth, honey bees could persist in the wild even if every colony would die after their very first winter – as long as they first manage to swarm.

The take-away is this: Don't put too much emphasis on the life-span of wild honey bee colonies but instead focus on their swarming. And swarming is what they do best. A different colony living in a brick wall which I managed to keep close tabs on swarmed three times this year.

Put that on my tab.

-

Hannes

Sweden
Sweden


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