Bees Make News

The news often ignores insects including bees. However, one aggressive swarm got the attention of a Florida News Crew (See video). Cameras are now miniature and can be mounted on drones (the remote control airplane kind, not the male bee), the latest new tool for news video recording. In this case, the drone was attacked by a bee swarm. The weight of the bees disrupted the flight of the drone. The newsman flying the drone landed it near his vehicle bringing a stinging swarm with it. The newsmen scrambled for the safety of their vehicles.

After the swarm dispersed, the drone was inspected and several bee stingers were found still attached to the foam fuselage. It is not clear why the bees attacked the drone. The bees obviously misidentified the drone as a threat, but why? Bees do not typically chase birds. However, bees will respond to vibrations. Running a lawn mower next to a beehive can bring a swarm of bees to investigate. Perhaps the sound irritated the bees? Squashing a bee can release alarm pheromone that recruits attacking bees. Perhaps a bee drone collision contaminated the drone with alarm pheromone? Were the bees of the killer bee strain?

This is an interesting mystery. Perhaps I should purchase a drone and fly it near our beehive? It might be a fun experiment.

Beehive boxes.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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2 Responses to Bees Make News

  1. KimV says:

    Working as a seasonal forester over the summer in Southern Indiana, I had the not-so-pleasant first-hand experience of how bees sense ground vibrations and investigate/attack. Day one, I stepped into a nest and luckily escaped with only two stings. Rest assured, I was extremely vigilant for the remainder of that job. During my training, my adviser mentioned the alarm pheromone and that was the first time I’d ever heard that. I did my best to avoid stepping on any bee in the woods for fear that I’d spend the rest of my day in hot pursuit.

  2. Jen says:

    Bees are such interesting little critters, especially here in Arizona. We deal with so many different types, the most common being africanized bees, but luckily we know how to safely deal with these bees. The drone idea is so intriguing that we might conduct it here at Northwest Exterminating. We are going to re-post your post because it is so amazing! Thank you!

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