Senior Reserves Officer Sarah Gibbs noticed what she thought was a plastic bag in a tree at Pitsford Water – but on closer investigation realised it was an amazing natural structure . . .
As Senior Reserves Officer at Northamptonshire’s Pitsford Water Nature Reserve, Sarah Gibbs is used to seeing unusual sights – but nothing quite as rare as this:
“Whilst walking within one of the woodland compartments at Pitsford Water Nature Reserve I noticed something unfamiliar hanging about two metres up in a hawthorn bush. It was about the size and width of my hand and looked to be a bright white honeycomb. No signs of bees or wasps were present but I was intrigued to know what would create such a beautifully fragile and exposed structure.
“After sending a few photos to a friend who studies bees and wasps the speculation is that this would have been created by a swarm of honey bees that was on the move. Unable to find a suitable place such as a cavity in a tree, the swarm chose this spot and automatically went in to cell building mode. The structure would have only been temporary as a colony would not have survived any bad weather and the risk of predators such as woodpeckers. Hopefully they managed to locate somewhere more suitable nearby.”
David White of the Northamptonshire Beekeepers’ Association said: “This is a wild comb generated by a swarm of honey bees; when bees swarm they top up with a three day supply of food from the hive that they have just left, and using their wax glands will generate a comb in the wild. The fact that the comb is still there suggests that the colony of bees was possibly spotted by an active beekeeper who gave them the opportunity of a permanent home.”