People will do funny and daring things to protect their queen. But they've got nothing on bees. In the world of insects like bees, ants, and termites, the queen is everything. After all, she's more than just a ruler, she's Mom! The queen lays the eggs that then hatched into each and every member of the colony. Is it any wonder that all of the other bees protect her at all costs?
So really, no one should be surprised by what happened recently in Wales. It was here, the town of Pembrokeshire, that the rear of a car was unexpectedly swarmed by about 10,000 bees. The silver Mitsubishi outlander was covered in the mass of insects for a couple days, even as it drove around. The reason? Though it took a while to discover why, it turns out that the colony's queen was stuck inside the car's trunk!
It's a house swarming party!
A healthy queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. That's a lot of eggs, and even if that little buzzer is up to the task, it makes you wonder — if the queen's main job is to lay a bunch of eggs, what was she doing wandering off in a car? Well, it turns out that it all has to do with a phenomenon called swarming.
Over the winter, all that egg-laying and larva-growing can make a beehive a mighty crowded place. By springtime, with the hive a home to some 50,000 worker bees, it's all too buzzy, er, busy inside the hive. Two things happen. A new queen is produced to take over the hive. Meanwhile, the old queen, and a whole bunch of flying bees take off to go a make a new hive.
Why a car?
No, the queen probably didn't mean to get stuck inside the car (or to start a hive there). Instead, she was probably just looking for a place to rest. Queens aren't the best flyers. So while the group is looking for a new home, they often need to stop along the way to let the queen get her energy back up. And while she rests, the swarm gathers around her to keep her safe.
Maybe the most interesting thing about this particular case of bee carjacking is that it's not unique. In 2009, another English car (a yellow Mini) was similarly covered in a swarm of migrating bees. And bees have been known to takeover storefronts and other buildings as they look for a new place to call "hive".
Meanwhile, back in Pembrokeshire, a pair of professional beekeepers were successful in getting the bees off the car and out of harm's way. Incidentally, if you ever come across a swarm like this, keep your distance and call some professionals, but don't panic. Interestingly, swarming bees are very calm. To prepare for their long journey, they eat lots of honey. Their sweet feast makes them super stuffed and relaxed!