Ed Sitko wrote:Sharing this photo taken recently near Lancing Michigan
"Just thought you all might be interested in this. I discovered this in Anderson park down along the Grand River near us. If you look closely, there is a hole in the tree above the honey comb. So, maybe the hollow in the tree is full, and they moved their hive outside. But, you can see the bees between the layers of honey comb. When it warms up, the bees become more active and cover more of the comb. When it cools down, they pull up more tightly between the layers."
Beekeepers - can you offer any theories on this bee-haviour ?
Happens occasionally up in Ontario, Canada also. Looks like the colony became overpopulous (hard to expand when you're living in a tree), swarmed and ran out of time to find a new home so they began building comb where they were hanging. Normal honey bee behaviour inside the hive is to cluster when temperatures start to drop as they do this time of year. This is the contraction you see when it is chilly. The cluster surrounds the queen and 'shivers' to generate heat---hard to do when you are living outside. At a low enough temperature they experience chill torpor and are not able to move around. This colony is unlikely to survive the winter without some kind of housing. Can you or a beekeeping friend carefully remove the combs with the bees--and paying particular attention to get the queen--and place them in frames in a hive box? Combs can be held in place with elastics. The bees may not have sufficient food stores to get them through the winter but a beekeeper would know how to supplement. As an urban beekeeper managing my bees with organic and sustainable practices, my preference would be raw, AFB-free honey but sugar fondant can prevent starvation in a pinch. As feral bees, these ones have the potential to be particularly disease-resistant and are worth saving.