Bee Swarming: How and Why Bees Swarm

Bee Swarming: How and Why Bees Swarm

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Honey bees are relatively docile insects and they tend to stick close to their hives. However, in the spring, as the colony grows, it may actually grow too big and need to do something about the overpopulation. They choose to swarm, i.e. to leave the hive in search of a new home.

Insect control professionals like have plenty of experience with this and they have some basic information about swarming, as well as what to do if you encounter this amazing phenomenon.

When Can You See a Swarm?

As mentioned before, swarms are typically a spring phenomenon. As bees start becoming more active and reproducing, the swarms may occur. The most likely period to witness a swarm is late spring, but other parts of the active bee season may also be suitable for this phenomenon.

Typically, one colony splits into two, but in certain situations, it may happen that it splits into three or more separate colonies, each with a queen of its own.

Why Do Bees Swarm?

If you remember your high school biology, you may know that bee colonies are very tightly organized. There is a queen bee which reproduces and doesn’t do any other work. She founded the colony and is the mother of all the worker bees. These worker bees are the hard-working females who collect the nectar, pollinate the plants and defend the colony from any threats. There are male bees as well, called drones, but they only have a reproductive purpose, after which they die.

Sometimes, the colony becomes too numerous for the size of the hive, so bees resort to splitting the colony in two. A new queen is born and takes half of the colony away from the original site to find a suitable new home.

How Does a Swarm Work?

Seeing thousands or tens of thousands of bees flying in unison is a truly awe-inspiring sight and even if you see them when they land, it can still be impressive. Typically, the swarm settles near their native colony, up to a 100 feet away from it for a few days. The queen isn’t very good at flying, so she stays put, surrounded by worker bees.

In the meanwhile, scout bees are dispatched to search for a suitable place for a new colony. Just like when looking for feeding grounds, only the best scouts are sent out. They return and signal the location of the potential new home by dancing and buzzing, just like when looking for food. Finally, after a decision has been made, the whole swarm takes to the air once again and settles in the new location.

Bees have a very specific requirement when it comes to what they expect from their homes. They want a cavity which is dark enough to protect the larvae, and with only has one entrance which they can protect. Furthermore, they need a source of water nearby and flowering plants for food as well. Sadly, all of these requirements are very often found near or in our houses.

What if a Swarm Is on My Property?

A lot of people have sheds, trees, or other potentially viable locations for a bee colony in their back yards. What’s more, water is almost universally available through an outdoor tap for watering the lawn or any other purpose. Bees may find your back yard almost impossible to resist and may decide to settle on your property. However, even before they do that, you may encounter a huge swarm somewhere near your home, looking for a permanent residence nearby.

If you encounter a swarm in your property, remember that they are not interested in you and won’t harm you if not provoked. They are simply in search of a new home. Still, a lot of people are uncomfortable with having wild bees on their property, especially if they have young children or pets. Bees tend to keep to themselves and will only protect their colony if you get too close. However, if you provoke them, they will defend themselves vehemently. Spraying them with water or some sort of an insecticide is definitely a bad idea and will likely instigate the bees to attack you.

Optimal Bee Swarm Solution

It is a lot better to consult bee removal experts to help you. They have all the necessary equipment to protect them from bee attacks, as well as plenty of experience in dealing with bees. Some bee removal companies also offer services of bee rescue, meaning that the bees are relocated and saved, rather than killed. Typically, these are bee keepers who take the bees and give them a hive to live in and produce honey for the beekeeper. If you don’t want to have the bees injured, you should look for this option and ask your pest control if they offer this service.

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