A Swarm of Bees

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, this afternoon our school had a close encounter with a swarm of bees, literally. And what an experience!

As we were leaving school today, thousands of bees flew into the yard, causing quite a scene. It happened so quickly that it took us some time to realise what was actually happening. The bees appeared out of nowhere, just like that! Click on this photo to get an idea of what it was like!

Of course our first priority was to ensure everyone’s safety. Once everyone was safe indoors, we started to take stock of the situation, trying to understand what was going on. Our first thought was that there was a beehive somewhere close, either in our school or close by. But, we check for such issues regularly, and a hive big enough to contain all the bees would have been hard to miss.

Apparently it is that time of year! It is the time when the queen bee abandons the old hive, leaving it for a new queen that has not even been born. She takes thousands of other bees with her, and together, they look for a place where they can build a new hive. And this is exactly what we experienced today – a swarm of bees looking for a place to build their new home.

Eventually the bees settled down on the boundary wall. After several phones calls, Mr Michael Zerafa, our science teacher, who is also a beekeeper came to the rescue. The bees were not in the least aggressive and we actually got pretty close to them, allowing us to take plenty of pictures. Mr Zerafa first sprayed the bees with water and then brushed them into a box, in which he had previously put some honey to attract the bees. The trick is to get the queen bee in there, and then the rest will follow. And it seems Mr Zerafa got it right! After some angry buzzing, the bees settled down again and they slowly but surely started making their way into the box. All 30, 000 of them!

We are now waiting for the last few to join the rest of the colony so that then the bees can be moved to safe place, where they can make their honey in peace.

The entire process will take hours but killing the bees was not an option. Over the past years, bees have been dying and scientists all over the world are extremely worried about this. If the bees die, we will have some serious problems on our hands and not having any honey will be the least of those problems. They are responsible for much of the food that we eat. They pollinate plants, so that the plants in turn produce the fruit and vegetables that we eat – from broccoli to almonds and pears. Without the bees doing all the work, we would simply have no fruit and vegetables. Some scientists even think that without bees, humans would not survive.

So, while the bees in school today might have been a scary sight, let us also be thankful that we still have bees!

A special thanks to Mr Zerafa for saving the bees and the day!