There was literally something abuzz in Blackfoot Thursday afternoon. A swarm of thousands of honeybees converged over the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds, eventually settling on a curb behind the Bingham County Courthouse.
Bingham County Commissioner Ladd Carter, who saw the bees from his office, called his son, Chase, a novice beekeeper. Chase brought a honey box to catch the bees.
Chase estimates that there were probably 30 to 40 thousand bees in the swarm, explaining that this time of the year it is natural for honeybees to multiply their hives by producing new queens. The old queen will leave the hive with about two-thirds of the colony following her to find a new home, which is likely what was going on with this swarm of bees.
Roger Porter, an experienced beekeeper from Chubbuck, expanded on the phenomenon, saying, "The hives get crowded and begin producing a new queen (or queens). Sometimes [a colony] will produce up to four or five 'virgin queens.' The 'old mother queen' goes with her followers to find a new home. Once the queen finds a new home the bees begin to release a scent into the air, attracting the rest of the followers to 'come and set up residence.' "
While some spectators watching the bees were a little squeamish and frightened of them, Chase assured them that the bees are "quite tame this time of the year."
"If you approach them slowly, even if you stick your hand in them, they probably won't sting you," he said. "They will get a little more aggressive in the fall when they are protecting their honey."
Chase said such swarms are not uncommon and that he has witnessed 4 or 5 of them in the five years that he has been tending bees. Katie Harris of Blackfoot also had a swarm of bees outside of her home in Pheasant Hollow last Saturday afternoon. Harris called local beekeeper Bryce Moser to come and get the bees.
Chase, who dabbles in jarring honey for his family and friends, said he will take the bees home and tend them.