There is a honey bee colony high in the old ash tree at Fiveways. Last week the colony swarmed and Julie Newblé, a regular contributor, was lucky enough to be there with her camera.
Honey bees swarm for one of two reasons: either the colony has reached a critical size and the old queen departs with some portion of her workers to set up a new colony, leaving the remainder in the care of a new queen in the old nest, or the nest has become uninhabitable and the whole colony sets out together to look for a new site.
 The swarm in the brambles between Fiveways and The Wildlife Wheel 
The queen is right at the centre of the swarm. She doesn’t fly well and the bees frequently settle so that she can rest. This swarm had settled in the brambles by the path that leads from Fiveways to the Wildlife Wheel, hardly any distance from the nest in the ash tree.
Despite the rather frightening noise they make, swarming honey bees are less likely to sting than at any other time. Not only are they in thrall to the queen’s pheromones but before swarming, they gorged themselves on honey, taking as much of the colony’s resources with them as they could carry, and their honey stomachs are so distended, that they are unable to curl their abdomen under in order to use their sting.
The swarm will settle anywhere and every year will bring photographs in the media of swarms in unexpected places.
We don’t know where this swarm went. If they flew beyond our boundaries they may well have been captured by a local beekeeper and be settling into a nice new hive in his apiary. But they also might have set up home in a hole in another old tree somewhere else in the reserve. Keep an eye out for them; a second colony would be a feather in our caps.