The Incredible Process Of Honey Bee Swarming

Image of honey bees swarming hive

Although a massive, buzzing swarm of bees may startle and frighten you, don’t be alarmed. The bees are not angry; they’re just looking for a new hive location.

The months of April and May are the busiest for swarming. Because bees do not swarm in the rain, the timing of bee swarms may vary. Apis mellifera, or honey bees, swarm for one of two reasons. The hive became too full and split into two (or more) groups, or a threat forced the hive to relocate. 1Go To Source ucanr.edu -“Why bees swarm and what you should – or shouldn’t – do about them”

Why Do Bees Swarm?

Bees swarming on the side of a homeSwarming is the process honey bees colonies use to reproduce and create new territories. The worker bees signal that it is time to swarm when a honey bee colony outgrows its housing becomes too congested or becomes too crowded for the queen’s pheromones to regulate the entire workforce. The workers begin constructing swarm cells in preparation for the arrival of new queens.

The colony’s behavior alters once the swarm cells are built, and the queen lays eggs in them. The workers begin erratic movements within the hive as foraging slows. In the meantime, the queen stops laying eggs and loses weight to be able to fly. When the queen is ready, she exits the hive, trailed by almost half of the workers in a vast cloud of flying bees.

The queen will seek out a nearby tree, land and emit pheromones that will attract the workers to her. While scout bees search for a new home, the cluster will remain there for several hours. The cluster will frequently depart, travel a mile or more, and reconstitute on a branch far from the initial hive.

Until scout bees find a new hive or cavity for occupying, the cluster will remain. When a suitable home is discovered, the entire cluster will take to the air and fly to the new area, where it will begin to build comb, grow new brood, and gather pollen and nectar. 2Go To Source hgic.clemson.edu -“FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HONEY BEE SWARMS”

Selection Of A Nesting Site

A scout spends over an hour inspecting a potential homesite after discovering it. Her inspection consists of a few hundred one-minute journeys inside the cavity, alternating with ones outside. Outside, the scout scurries around the entry opening of the nest structure and makes slow, hovering flights all around the nest site, apparently making a complete visual investigation of the structure and its surroundings.

While inside, the bee scrambles over the inner surfaces, initially not venturing far into the cavity. As experience grows, the bee pushes further and deeper into the hollow’s distant corners. When the scout is finished with her investigation, she will have traveled at least 50 meters (approximately 150 feet) into the cavity, crossing all of its inner surfaces. If the location is suitable, the scout bee will notify the queen bee.

Are Bee Swarms Dangerous?

Photo of large bee swarm in backyardHoney bee swarms are more concerned with finding a new nest than with attacking humans. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remain safe from swarming bees because if the bees feel threatened, they may sting.

Depending on how quickly the scout bees discover a suitable new home, a swarm may stay for a few days. If the scouts have determined your property is an appropriate nesting location, they will remain on the property for a long time. This might happen in a matter of hours or even minutes.

If, on the other hand, you come across a bee swarm that is genuinely intolerable, first and foremost:

  • Attempting to move or eliminate the swarm is not a good idea. Attempts like these could backfire spectacularly.
  • Close all doors and windows to prevent the bees from entering the home.
  • Contact the Honey Bee Rescuers to connect with a local beekeeper that can relocate the swarm safely.

How To Handle A Bee Swarm On Your Property

If you discover a honey bee swarm near your home, follow these four actions to safeguard yourself, the bees, and your property.

1. Stay Calm: Honey bees aren’t trying to hurt you; they’re only looking for a new home. The stress and terror surrounding a honey bee swarm may lead you to use dangerous chemicals and insecticides to exterminate the bees. We don’t propose these approaches for swarm removal because they aren’t necessary.

2. Keep Your Distance From The Swarm: People, particularly children, sometimes annoy honey bees by throwing objects or pebbles at the swarm. Not only would this injure the bees, but it may also provoke them to attack any prospective threats. Remember to stay away from the swarm and keep a safe distance from it at all times.

3. Wait It Out: Because the swarm won’t be around for long, perhaps a day or two, your best bet is to leave it alone until they leave. We recommend letting the honey bees rest until they fly to their new colony as long as they haven’t swarmed in an area that threatens you or your home.

4. Get Help Right Away: If the swarm has established itself on a deck, on the home, or in the backyard, contact a bee control professional in your area. If the swarm poses a threat to you, your house, or your family, contact Honey Bee Rescuers as soon as possible. Experienced beekeepers will be able to securely remove the swarm from your home without injuring the bees or threatening you.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Jepsen, Rebecca. “Why Bees Swarm and What You Should – or Shouldn’t – Do about Them.” ANR Blogs, UC MASTER GARDENERS OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY, 27 May 2019, ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=30352. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  2. Powell, Benjamin. “Frequently Asked Questions About Honey Bee Swarms | Home & Garden Information Center.” Home & Garden Information Center | Clemson University, South Carolina, Clemson University, 29 June 2021, hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/frequently-asked-questions-about-honey-bee-swarms. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  3. Villa, José D. (2004). “Swarming Behavior of Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Southeastern Louisiana”. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 97 (1): 111–116. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  4. “Swarms”. barnsleybeekeepers.org.uk. Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  5. Seeley, Thomas D.; Visscher, P. Kirk (September 2003). “Choosing a home: How the scouts in a honey bee swarm perceive the completion of their group decision making”. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 54 (5): 511–520. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  6. Bee Swarms Follow High-speed ‘Streaker’ Bees To Find A New Nest; ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2008) Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  7. “Honey Bee Swarms”. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  8. Mussen, E. C. “Removing Honey Bee Swarms and Established Hives”. UC Statewide IPM Program, University of California, Davis. Retrieved 2020-08-04.