The Check's in the Mail...

...but it would be a little difficult for this mailbox owner to confirm that! This swarm was reported to New Jersey Beekeeper Association (NJBA) member Robert Simonofsky recently. Swarming is the mechanism that honey bees use to perpetuate their species. In the spring, a healthy hive with a good population decides, for a variety of reaons, to swarm. The workers create a number of "swarm cells". These are peanut-shaped cells that are usually attached toward the bottoms of frames in the hive. Workers move new eggs into the cells and begin feeding them a substance produced by "nurse bees" called royal jelly. The eggs hatch and are transformed into queens as a result of being fed nothing but royal jelly. Just as the new queens are ready to emerge from their cells, the old queen leaves with about half the population of the hive in search of new home. When the thousands of swarming honey bees first leave their original hive, they cluster nearby with the queen in the middle to protect her while "scout bees" search for a new home, which is what the bees in this photo have done.

(Photo by Harry Hillard)

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