Have you ever seen a large swarm of bees covering a tree or shrub in your yard? The sight of a bee swarm can strike fear into the hearts of most homeowners, especially if you have kids, pets or are allergic to bees. We often get panicked calls from customers when a swarm moves into a nearby tree or shrub. However, you actually have little to fear from a swarm of bees.
When bees swarm, they are essentially looking for a new place to make a home. They are not aggressive, or interested in you in the least when they are in swarm mode. They cluster in a large ball because they are protecting the queen, who is at the center of the mass of bees. Scout bees fly out to find a suitable residence. Typically, if a swarm stops in your yard, they may only be there a few hours to a day or two; then they’ll usually just move on. By the time we make it out to your property, the swarm is often already gone. That said, you should not try to disturb, spray or catch a swarm unless you’re trained in beekeeping and have protective gear.
Why do bees swarm?
Sometimes the queen has died and the new queen the hive has raised decides to move on. In other cases the hive may have become overpopulated and so the queen will leave with a portion of the hive. They may also swarm as a response to environmental pressures, pesticide damage or pest infestations in their hive. Swarming in cultivated hives is much more common these days due to many pressures that bees are facing.
Hive destruction is the last resort.
Bees are crucial to our food system. Without honey bees, we simply wouldn’t have many of the fruits, vegetables and nuts we rely on. They last thing we want to do is destroy a healthy swarm or hive if it can be safely relocated instead. We do everything we can to protect the bees. Maybe a swarm has decided your garage or attic is the perfect place for their new home. That is the time to call an experienced wildlife specialist to evaluate how to remove the hive from your home. In many cases, they swarms can be safely relocated. In rare situations, a hive may have to be destroyed due to it’s location or difficulty of removal.
We have a swarm! What do we do?
Again, don’t disturb a swarm or hive that may have taken up residence in your home. Don’t spray it with water or insecticides or swat at it in any way. If you have a swarm in your yard, simply leave it alone and keep an eye on it for a day to two to see how it behaves. Most likely, it will simply move on. But if it appears the bees may be clustering on your home, please call us to have the situation evaluated and have the swarm or hive removed safely.