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Sunday we were planting potatoes in wire bins. I was digging in my compost to put in the bins to plant the 'taters, and seeing lots and lots of nice healthy worms. 

(Have you noticed when you dig around where composting worms are working that you get that wormbox smell?  My husband says I'm nuts, but I can tell there are red wigglers being disturbed when I smell it. When we were out driving last fall, the car windows were down and I smelled worms, and mentioned it. Hubby told me how weird I was, but as we rounded a curve there was an endloader piling apple hulls on a pile by an orchard. I could smell the apples some, but I could really smell the worms.)

Anyway, I knew I was bothering lots of working worms, and was happy to have such great compost left to plant potatoes in.  As I dug, I saw a long fat worm, and ran for my camera. ("Yes, I am taking a picture of a worm, dear. Yes, I am nuts, honey. I love you too.")

It was the biggest worm I had seen all day. It was mostly white, with some reddish brown at one end. I looked, but didn't see a flattened end, though it was squirming so much I may have missed it.

When it had squinched itself short is was about 6 inches long, and when it stretched out it looked to be at least twice that.  And I also sniffed it to see if it smelled like lillies. (Because of the stories I have heard about Palouse worms). It didn't. 

Once I was done admiring it, I put it back in a part of the compost we weren't going to disturb. 

That big guy needed to get back to work!

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Later that same morning, I was driving across town to pick up some coffee grounds from a coffee shop. I was driving by a big church just as it was getting out. Police were directing traffic for the church. Suddenly, BEES were EVERYWHERE. Traffic stopped, the police stopped directing and crouched, and one of them ran back a ways.

I snapped photos of the bees in the air, and of the coming swarm. (the grey cloud in this photo) 
The black dots are bees, not rain! 

Scary! They flew off after a few minutes, while traffic came to a standstill.  When I dashed into the coffee shop, I saw the bee cloud gather and fly over the church. 

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Comment by Richard Westman on May 13, 2012 at 11:35am

Hi,

The bees were swarming.  Bees swarm when the hive becomes overcrowded. Someone wasn't watching their hive(s) so the old queen left with around half of the original hive (or a wild hive became overcrowded and swarmed).  A new queen will reign in the old hive. This is a natural way for bees to increase. If someone followed the bees to see where the settled they could have had a free bee coloney. Before bees swarm they eat their fill of hone/y, so a swarm of bees is easy to capture with out being stung. Sort of like a guy after a big meal - only good for watching TV.  By nature most bees are gentle and not hard to handle. They generally only sting in self defense (you try to swat it) or to defend their hive.

 

Don't worry around bees - bee happy

  

Comment by Antonia on May 14, 2012 at 10:24am

I have found a few more of the huge whitish worms. I wonder what kind they are? They don't have the flattened tail of nightcrawlers, and though they don't look it in the photo, they appear a translucent milky white. One was easily 18 inches long as it wriggled along-  more than twice the size of the length of my hand. 

I would love to the bee queen stop and gather her bees around her. I have always thought it would be great to raise bees, in theory. But the actuality of it kinda scares me. 

Comment by Richard Westman on May 14, 2012 at 6:54pm

I have always been fasinated by the workings of a bee hive.  Years ago a neighbor had two hives right next to the fence that separated our property. I would watch him inspect his hives and he would tell me what he was doing and why. I also was able to see him harvest honey. In all thoes years I was never stung by any bees near his hives. One year one of his bee hives swarmed and clustered in a bush in our yard.  Without any protective clothing I cut the branch they were clustered on and placed it in one his spare hive boxes - I was never stung although hundreds of bees were flying all around me. See if you have a local bee club in your area and attend a few meetings to see if beekeeping is for you. The rewards are sweet.

Comment by Antonia on May 15, 2012 at 8:43am

ThanksI I will check into it! 

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