Swarm on branch A colony of honeybees swarming around the unseen queen.

A single colony typically contains 20,000 to 30,000 bees. At any one time, the colony gathers nectar using several thousand foraging worker bees that descend on flower patches spread over an area as wide as 40 square miles. (During the course of a year, one colony will gather more than 260 pounds of nectar.) The patches differ in size and richness, with richness declining as a factor of the number of bees visiting it to harvest nectar. To effectively exploit the various floral resources within its range, a colony must constantly gather information about flower patches and adjust its visitation strategy accordingly.

The swarm flies At the height of the flower season, a colony will have several thousand foragers at once on a search for nectar and pollen.

Photos: ©1998 ORF.

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