The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

October 5, 2010

Bees in the Trees

Filed under: Bees — bob @ 3:29 pm

A few days ago my sister Vickie stopped by to visit and feed the chickens a treat of dry bread. While we were talking she asked me, “why didn’t you tell me you had a bee’s nest near your driveway?” I answered that I didn’t know what she was talking about.

It turned out that earlier in the summer a honeybee swarm had settled into a brushy area near my driveway. Instead of looking for a hollow tree or abandoned shed, they must have felt that they were adequately protected from elements and started to build honey combs right out in the open.  I hadn’t seen the hive because the undergrowth was too thick, it wasn’t until the leaves started falling that the bees became visible.  Honeybees will do this from time to time.

These bees were not visible until the leaves started to fall last week.

When bees do this, they use their own bodies as a wall to protect the Queen bee and her brood inside the nest.  This means that fewer worker bees are available to forage for nectar and pollen because they are preoccupied with keeping the hive warm and protected.  Fewer foragers means less honey and that equals less food available to the hive for use during the winter.  In our area, a hive like this would be unable to survive the winter without shelter.

Not wanting  to see them die a sure death, I decided to help them endure the upcoming winter by placing them into a beehive body made from a standard size wooden box used to keep bees. I’m feeding them sugar syrup to supplement the Goldenrod and Aster nectar they are collecting.

This honeybee is collecting nectar and pollen. Note the pollen she is carrying on her legs.

This was not a very large cluster of bees as far as bee hives go.  So they may not survive the winter anyway but at least I gave them a better chance than they would have otherwise.

Feral bees like these play an important part in the world of beekeeping. Since they are survivors they have the potential to carry important genetic traits that may make them resistant to the many diseases and parasites that plague bees.

I have more photos of the colony and moving the bees posted on line at my other site.



  1. This is such a cool and interesting story. It just clicked (going to your other blog) who your wife is and where the eggs I bought at Matthaei came from! :-)

    Comment by Monica the Garden Faerie — October 5, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

  2. P.S. How refreshing reading something in which “fewer” and “less” are used correctly! (It’s a pet peeve.)

    Comment by Monica the Garden Faerie — October 5, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  3. Hi Monica, Finding a honeybee colony like this is pretty cool and interesting. Honeybees are having such a difficult time right now. I believe we should do whatever we can to help them. Thanks for sharing. I encourage other readers to visit your blog as well. Bob

    Comment by Bob — October 6, 2010 @ 7:54 am

  4. Hi Bob,
    Wonderful pictures! How is the hive doing?

    Comment by Chris — November 11, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  5. Hi Chris, I checked the bees yesterday and topped off their sugar syrup. They have consumed about 30 pounds or so of syrup and look fine. They have stored up a lot of honey and have built some new comb, those are good signs that they have regained some strength. I’ll post an update now and then on their progress. Bob

    Comment by Bob — November 12, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  6. Sounds like success! I am pleasantly surprised to hear that they have continued to build comb and stored honey this late in the season. Will the population be sufficient to fill one or two hive bodies for the winter months?

    I am located in your neighborhood, presently have 3 hives, and know I am a novice after keeping bees for the past 12 years. Do you belong to any of the beekeeper associations? Do you know if there is a club in Monroe County? Should there be a club in Monroe County?

    Comment by Chris — November 15, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  7. Chris, Thanks for following along on the bee blog post. I currently belong to the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association. I’m not sure if there is a local club in Monroe or not. You may want to contact the County Agriculture Extension office to find out if they have many information regarding local beekeeper organizations.

    Comment by Bob — November 17, 2010 @ 9:23 am

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