Additional Math Pages & Resources

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bee Gone

This will be my last post on bees this week. The subject is Swarming - when bees decide to fly away.

Perhaps half or more of the bees leave their hive, led by a new queen. They look for a good location in a new neighborhood. In preparation, they fill their stomachs with honey til they can barely fly. In fact they are so full they can't bend over and sting anything. That's what the books say, anyway.

Back when I was a hobbyist beekeeper, the company I worked for was "visited" by a swarm of bees. In fact, they calmly took up residence in a tree and were resting there in a clump the size of a basketball. Our problem was that the tree was between our office's back door and the front door of the lunch room.

The office manager knew I sold honey, so he assumed I kept bees. He asked me to resolve the problem. Although I knew the theory of handling swarms, that's not the same as the practice! With no time to drive home for my bee suit, I just walked out there calmly (sweating) with an empty cardboard box. I placed it under the bunch of bees, shook the tree branch, and they fell into the box.

The remaining bees buzzed around for awhile and within 10 minutes 95% of them had gone into in the box through a tiny door I had cut in one side. I put on the lid, taped over the door and took them to my car. I was given the rest of the day off to "Get those bees outta here!"

I think bees should always be saved if possible, but most bee removals end with the death of the hive. Killing the hive is less trouble for exterminators. If they are deep in the walls of your house there's really no way to get them out. If they are on a porch or in the eves - then you have a chance!

Now we will get right to a couple examples of how the math you learned in school can be helpful:

1. The fire department in Redondo Beach, California reports that they received and responded to an average of 18 bee calls per month last year. (Why did so many people call the firemen?)

Q. How many bee swarm calls did the fire department respond to in a whole year?

A. 12 x 18 = 216

2. A blogger shared his experience with a bee swarm. He wanted to catch the bees in a box but his swarm was 30 feet up in a huge tree. It was a fiasco but he persevered and got the bees. He said the swarm contained about 10,000 bees, and he was happy that he only got stung 3 times.

Q. What percentage of the bees stung this beekeeper?

A.  We can ask ourselves questions to find this answer:
One percent means one sting per hundred bees. How many stings per hundred? (Answer = None). 
One tenth of a percent means one per thousand.  How many stings per thousand? (None).
One hundredth of one percent means one sting per ten thousand. How many per ten thousand? (Three).  
The answer is 3 hundredths of one percent, or .03% of the bees stung this poor beekeeper.

Go here if you would like to see an illustrated version of a bees-in-the-box procedure!