Tonight my daughter found what looked to be a cluster of bees somewhere between a tennis ball and a golf ball in size in the grass next to our rhubarb, under a birch tree. Around the ball, in the grass and on and in the rhubarb were hundreds of dead bees. They covered an area of an about 80cm circle. Our closest hive is about 8-10m away.
Our first thought was something killed them on the grass but then upon seeing dead bees in the rhubarb 40-60cm off the ground, that theory seemed less likely. A second theory was possibly they had swarmed into the birch tree then died for some reason and fell from the tree? In the branch 3-4m high directly over where they lay dead was what appears to be some sort of birds nest.
It is all very mysterious. We scoured the pile of dead bees and the tiny cluster but found no queen so I can’t say if it was a swarm or just a very large number of bees. We definitely don’t use pesticides of any kind. No idea about anywhere else. They also did not appear to be fighting and none looked particularly damaged that I could see. I took pictures but they are still on my camera. Will work on them as soon as I can.
But what could have killed all these bees? Maybe they weren’t even ours? Although we have been fighting their swarming for about ten days now. I have never heard of finding piles so far from any hive. Should we be worried about the health of our other hives? Any theories?