Image #88 – The Swarm

Image #88Autumn is close at hand. Migrations and changes have begun. Yesterday a neighbor called to ask if I was being over-run by starlings. Her deck, with its many feeders, was covered with starlings–young, adult, old, they all vied to get as much feed as they could before flying away. Birds migrate mostly at night, using the stars for navigation. So these starlings were “packing on the carbs” before the night’s flight.

A few starlings visited me but my swarm was quite different. It was bees!  Hundreds of bees had found their way to my hummingbird feeder and drained it dry. There were so many bees that the birds were intimidated and perhaps even stung. They would fly in, furtively, grab a quick mouth of seed and fly away with bees on their tails.  The bees massed in great numbers on the hummingbird feeder and some even climbed into the feeder through a feeding hole that had lost its tiny plastic “flower” which narrows down the opening, drowning themselves in the process and making quite a mess.  You can see them in this picture, bunched at the top of the liquid.

I was puzzled as to why they had suddenly decided to descend on a feeder that has been in place for two months. The answer presented itself today.

A short distance from the hill on which I live is a small business that specializes in erosion control and surveying properties. The owner also has bee hives which he put out in a field last May during my visit. In the past couple of days the number of beehives has increased dramatically and so has the activity at the business during the night. The annoying beep-beep-beep of a lift backing up has pierced the night, disrupting the sleep for many of us here on Fawn Hill. We could not imagine what this company was doing in its work from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. but today, as we drove by the place returning from a delightful day trip to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest we noticed that the number of hives has increased tremendously. They line the driveway and stretch onto the fields. Suddenly it all became clear. The bee hive keeper was collecting his flock, preparing it for a move south. Hence the bee population in this neighborhood has skyrocketed and they are going for whatever they can find eat.

Just another part of the cycle. I’ve been told I need a special feeder that has holes so small that only hummingbirds with their small proboscis can access them. I’ll make that investment and, next year, the hummers will have two feeders until the bees return in August. Then we’ll put away the feeder that calls many to their death.  Just part of the learning process here on Fawn Hill and, after all, life is for learning. ☙

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