20,000 Bees Chase Car Around for Days After Queen Bee Gets Trapped Inside

By Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
May 24, 2016 Updated: May 24, 2016

A queen bee got trapped in the back of a car, causing the hive of approximately 20,000 bees to chase the vehicle for two days.

The queen bee apparently got stuck in the car boot (trunk).

It took five different beekeepers, park rangers, and others to get them out, according to The Metro.

Roger Burns of Pembrokeshire Beekeepers said the car’s owner drove away unknowingly with a queen trapped in the back of the vehicle.

He told the paper: “We think the queen had been attracted to something in the car, perhaps something sweet, and had got into a gap on the boot’s wiper blade or perhaps the hinge.”

The swarm of thousands then “followed her and were sat around on the boot of the car,” he added. “I brought over a cardboard box and carefully brushed them into there as quickly as possible as I was aware it was a big swarm in the middle of the high street.”

He said that he endured 15 to 20 stings for trying to remove the queen.

“I then left the cardboard box on the roof while we waited for the last few hundred bees to leave the boot but then a gust of wind blew it off and the queen fled back to the boot again,” he added.

He continued: “I think the owner must have been a bit scared of the swarm that was hanging around and just wanted to get away without realizing they were attracted the car because of the queen.”

“We were left with a swarm of queen-less bees in the box and then heard that the same car was spotted the very next day with a swarm all over the boot, still chasing it.”

Burns then said that he’s been keeping bees for three decades but has never seen anything like this.

“It is natural for them to follow the queen but it is a strange thing to see and quite surprising to have a car followed for two days. It was quite amusing,” he said.

Despite the naming convention, the queen bee doesn’t directly control the hive. Her sole function is to serve as the reproducer. A well-fed queen can lay as many as 1,500 eggs per day in the spring. The queen bee is also able to control the sex of the eggs she lays.

Tal Reichert, a hobbyist beekeeper, says there are three ways bees decide to raise a new queen, according to Quora:

1. When they feel their existing queen is getting old/failing, and they want to supersede her with a new queen.

2. When the queen has gone missing – died, wandered off the hive, whatever – but she’s not in the hive.

3. The bees “decide” to swarm, i.e. take one hive and split it into two.

In all of these situations, the bees need a new queen. They choose female eggs (apparently at random) and relocate them into bigger cells (“queen cells”). These female larvae are fed richer food than the worker larvae (to be specific – in the first three days of their lives, worker larvae and queen larvae are both fed the rich royal jelly, but only queen larvae are kept on it, allowing them to mature faster and become queens). The cells are then capped, the larvae create pupae and transforms into queens.

Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom