When thinking of animals with tight-knit family bonds, a few immediately come to mind. There are elephants who travel in multigenerational herds and are always ready to spring into action when their young fall in mud or get caught in strong river waters, and they have been shown to mourn their fallen family members and loved ones. There are lions who have shown time and time again that they will do anything to be near and protect their cubs and mates. And of course, there are chimpanzees, who remain close to their mothers into old age and groom each other regularly not just as a way to get clean but to strengthen bonds. Well, it turns out there’s one more we can add to the list: bees.
Now, most everyone knows that bees are part of a colony so clearly they have some sort of bond, however, recently we got a glimpse into just how much bees actually worship their queen bee.
Carol Howarth parked her car in Haverfordwest, Wales, and went about her day of shopping. While Carol was away, a queen bee became attracted to something near her car and apparently while buzzing around, somehow got stuck in the gap near the back window of the car. The colony clearly freaked out and went to find her … but things took a bit of a turn. Since she was caught in the car, the other bees had no choice but to swarm around the car – and ended up huddling around the window. A concerned passerby saw what he described as a “brown splodge” and immediately called in a team of beekeepers to remedy the situation safely.
Shortly after, the problem appeared to be resolved, the operative word being appeared. Apparently, the queen bee was still stuck, but the beekeepers didn’t realize. When Carol drove off, the colony had only one choice: to follow their queen! When Carol realized that some of the bees (if 20,000 can be called “some”) had followed her back to her house, she called the beekeepers once again. Roger Burns of Pembrokeshire Beekeepers was able to reunite the queen with her swarm, but not without noting that this was definitely the strangest thing he had seen in all his years of beekeeping.
Now, some people may hear this story and be completely irked by the thought of a group of thousands of bees huddling around their car and following them home, and we understand that, people can sometimes have a hard time getting past the whole bee sting thing to give bees a chance. However, it is imperative that we look past it and realize just how important bees are to our ecosystem. To start, bees are responsible for pollinating around 100 different human food crops, which provide around 90 percent of the world’s nutrition! Without bees, we’d no longer have the delight of enjoying foods like broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries, and cherries … just to name a few. Bees beautify the planet by pollinating flowers, which in turn helps other insects and birds and they also act as environmental indicators of sorts, notifying us when something is awry in our ecosystems.
Unfortunately, despite all of the wonderful things these tiny creatures do for us, they are dying at alarming rates. Their populations are on the decline due to the loss of habitat, as well as an increase in the use of chemicals, such as insecticides and fertilizers, on crops, which also have a negative effect on the bees who absorb them through pollination. Considering all of this, we think it’s safe to say that seeing a swarm of 20,000 bees should only strike fear in us momentarily before we realize that any sighting of bees is definitely a good sign! To learn how you can help bees, click here.
Image source: Tom Moses/Facebook